Georgetown Law Professor: Mueller Subpoena Battle Could Lead To "True Constitutional Crisis"

|

Georgetown University legal scholar Victoria Nourse told the Associated Press that the battle between the Democrat-led House and President Donald Trump over special counsel Robert Mueller's report could lead to a "true constitutional crisis."

"I don't see any legitimate ground for the executive to be pushing back against Mueller testimony," she explained. "Again, to do that, they'd also perhaps support it with this unitary executive theory that all members of the executive branch are under the president's authority and therefore he can order him not to testify. Mueller's response to that, I expect, would be simply to resign."





"My biggest fear is that if it were to go to court and the court were to affirm Congress' authority that the president would simply refuse. That would be a true constitutional crisis because, in fact, you would have one branch saying to the other branch, the courts, I'm not going to pay attention to you in which case there is no way to resolve that. The only way to resolve it would be in fact impeachment under the Constitution," she said.

VICTORIA NOURSE: I think this White House has been the most combative since Nixon. ... I don't think that this president is following the existing precedents. The last president I know who actually pursued the claim that he would not respond, his senior officials would not respond to House subpoenas was Nixon.

This particular stance about refusing to honor subpoenas is very aggressive. Typically, these things happen every day up and down Pennsylvania Avenue. They're negotiated. Why? People don't want the American public to think that they are stonewalling, that they're not doing the business of the people.

The weight is in favor of Congress's investigatory authority. Now, his (President Donald Trump) argument will be, 'well they don't need it anymore because we have the Mueller report,' but his judgment is not the final judgment. We know that from United States versus Nixon. The Nixon case says the president cannot decide on his own. The court is the final arbiter of whether Congress needs this information or it's within its congressional constitutional authority.

So, I don't see any legitimate ground for the executive to be pushing back against Mueller testimony. Again, to do that, they'd also perhaps support it with this unitary executive theory that all members of the executive branch are under the president's authority and therefore he can order him not to testify. Mueller's response to that, I expect, would be simply to resign.

My biggest fear is that if it were to go to court and the court were to affirm Congress' authority that the president would simply refuse. That would be a true constitutional crisis because in fact you would have one branch saying to the other branch, the courts, I'm not going to pay attention to you in which case there is no way to resolve that. The only way to resolve it would be in fact impeachment under the Constitution.

Comment
Show comments Hide Comments

Latest Political Videos

Video Archives