Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Legal experts and other commentators lambaste Trump administration for "unconstitutional" block on Dr. Anthony Fauci's House testimony re: COVID-19

Donald Trump and Dr. Anthony Fauci
Dr. Anthony Fauci was to testify today before a U.S. House committee on the government's response to the coronavirus outbreak. The White House, however, blocked Fauci's testimony -- claiming the House is controlled by Democrats and "Trump haters." The administration's decision, in keeping with its longstanding defiance of Congressional oversight, set off sparks of outrage from legal experts, according to  a report from HuffPost/Yahoo! News.

Meanwhile, we are fortunate to have a lawyer source who offers a solution to the stalemate.

From the HuffPost/Yahoo! report:

Legal experts led the criticism of President Donald Trump’s White House on Friday after it confirmed it would not allow Dr. Anthony Fauci to testify before a House panel on the United States’ handling of the coronavirus pandemic next week.

White House spokesman Judd Deere claimed in a statement that the appearance of the infectious disease expert, who is a prominent member of Trump’s coronavirus task force, on Wednesday, May 6, would be “counterproductive.”

Instead, Fauci is expected to testify at a Senate Health Committee hearing the following week, on May 12, reported NBC News. The House is controlled by the Democrats, while the Senate has a Republican majority.

How did this sit with legal experts -- not to mention commentators, journalists, and politicos -- around the country? Not well, as the HuffPost/Yahoo! report makes clear:

Laurence Tribe, professor of constitutional law at Harvard:

This is outrageous.

Maya Wiley, former chief counsel to New York City mayor:

An unconstitutional #obstruction of Congress during an emergency. Thank Senators who voted to give #Trump a pass on #impeachment for...say it with me....””: “White House blocking Fauci from testifying before Congress about coronavirus response.”

Glenn Kirschner, former federal prosecutor:

I am so sick of this administration’s crimes, callousness and cover-ups. What kind of sham, non-existent privilege has Trump asserted to stop Dr. Fauci from testifying? Wait, don’t tell me, it’s a variation on doctor-patient privilege.

Bill Kristol, conservative commentator:

So the White House is taking responsibility for Fauci not testifying. It seems as if Fauci was willing to testify, and that neither he nor Azar wanted to say no publicly, forcing the White House to do so. Gotta think relations between WH and HHS/Fauci are near a breaking point.

Dan Rather, retired CBS anchor:

So the White House is blocking Fauci from testifying in front of the House? Calling it “counterproductive” since he's busy working on the pandemic? The jokes write themselves, but there's nothing funny about this

Howard Dean, former presidential candidate:

The obvious thing for Fauci to do is resign and then testify. Or testify anyway and see if trump dares to fire him.

Howard Dean suggests Fauci needs to grow a spine. A lawyer source tells Legal Schnauzer Congress needs to grow a spine:

Congress should study the capias writ (arrest of a person), and order a capias writ for Fauci. Every person Trump orders not to appear should be subject to a capias writ from Congress. The full Latin term for a capias is capias ad respondendum (Latin: "that you may capture [him] in order for him to reply").

A 'capias' writ issued from Congress would be simply an order that the witness be seized and brought to Congress to respond to questions from Congress. It's not an order to arrest Trump. It's an order to seize and bring the witness to Congress. It's really perfect. What's Trump going to do? Obstruct or use violence to prevent a Congressional police officer from arresting a congressional witness who has been subpoenaed? It's perfect. Consider it my (first) moment of legal brilliance in quite a while. Headline: Why Doesn't Congress Issue A Capias Writ To Every Witness Trump Tries To Prevent From Testifying Before Congress?

I knew Trump's statements today were not sufficient reasons to prevent Fauci from testifying before Congress. . . . Also, one of the most ancient and basic principles of evidence law: When a person (Trump) tries to obstruct or prevent evidence from being reviewed by an investigative body (i.e., Congress), there is an ADVERSE INFERENCE that the person who is trying to prevent the facts or evidence from being produced (Trump) is GUILTY and trying to cover something up.

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