One thing that establishment Congress-critters know how to do is show hearings. Most of the time, televised show hearings are really more along the lines of bread and circuses for the masses rather than serious information gathering efforts.
The January 6 Special Committee was thought to be one of those efforts until Rep. Adam Schiff gave away in an interview this week that really it’s more about procuring documents from the Trump Administration.
The main issue for the Committee is that the targets of their efforts are not cooperating. Media personality Steven K. Bannon is forcing legal Discovery on the Committee in his contempt of Congress charge. Now, former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows is suing the Committee itself claiming that the whole effort is illegal.
The lawsuit makes some familiar arguments, such as that the committee is violating the Constitution’s separation of powers by encroaching on executive privilege. Former Trump aide Stephen K. Bannon, who is being prosecuted by the supposedly apolitical Department of Justice for contempt of Congress, is making the same case against his subpoena in federal court.
The resolution, H. Res. 503, provides that the committee “shall” consist of 13 members, five of which “shall be appointed after consultation with the minority leader.”
But the committee only has nine members, seven of whom are Democrats, and only two of whom are hand-picked anti-Trump Republicans. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) rejected the five members chosen by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (D-CA), an unprecedented step to ensure a one-sided inquiry.
Furthermore, Meadows’s lawsuit points out that while the chair of the committee can order subpoenas, that authority is not absolute. H. Res. 503 requires the chair of the committee to consult with the ranking member before issuing a subpoena for a deposition. But the committee has no ranking Republican member, which could make the committee’s subpoenas invalid.
If Meadows’s lawsuit is successful, he could not only block his own subpoena but could see the entire committee declared invalid. Pelosi and the Democrats would have to start over — this time, obeying the rules, with five Republican members.
And he named all of the committee members in the lawsuit, not just the Speaker and the Committee, et al.
Bread and circuses show hearings only work if the “witnesses” play along. The likes of Meadows and Bannon aren’t going to play along.
That is actually making this whole committee fiasco rather entertaining.
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