Your impeachment questions, answered
Earlier this week, Democrats told the White House to expect subpoenas related to the Ukraine matter. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani have already received subpoenas as part of the ongoing impeachment investigation.
What can the House do to enforce its subpoenas if and when witnesses like Rudy Giuliani and Mike Pompeo refuse to comply?
The House has three traditional legal avenues, all of them problematic.
First, the House theoretically has its own inherent enforcement power, but that has essentially gone dormant after nearly a century of non-use. The House does not have a police force capable of making arrests — the sergeant-at-arms is primarily a security force — or a functioning jail facility.
Second, the House can refer a contempt case for criminal prosecution. But that referral would go to Barr’s Justice Department, and it is very unlikely he would bring criminal charges given his established pattern of protecting Trump and those around him.
Third, the House can file a civil lawsuit in court. But this will take months to resolve, and the House simply does not have the luxury of time to litigate.
But the House is getting creative — and tough. Schiff has notified subpoena recipients that he will draw an “adverse inference” if they do not comply.
In other words, he will assume their non-response means the testimony would have been damaging to those accused.
Second, the House has the ability to bring an article of impeachment for obstruction of Congress; indeed, one of the draft articles of impeachment against Nixon was for obstruction of Congress.
Read more impeachment questions and ask your own here.