House Impeachment Manager, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), drew laugher after he referred to an exchange that took place in federal court on Thursday.
Schiff noted that while Trump’s legal team has argued that the House should have gone to court to force witnesses like former National Security Adviser John Bolton to testify by using a subpoena, Trump’s Justice Department lawyers were — nearly simultaneously — arguing in a separate case that it’s up to Congress to enforce subpoenas through measures like impeachment.
“We’ve been debating whether a president can be impeached for essentially bogus claims of privilege for attempting to use the courts to cover up misconduct” and after the Justice Department has resisted House subpoenas,” Schiff said.
“So the judge says, ‘Well if the Congress can’t enforce its subpoenas in court, then what remedy is there?'” said Schiff.
“And the Justice Department lawyer’s response is: ‘Impeachment. Impeachment.’ You can’t make this up,” said Schiff, drawing laughter from senators in the chamber.
“You can’t make this stuff up… The Justice Department, in resisting House subpoenas, is in court TODAY and was asked: If Congress can’t come to the court to enforce subpoenas… what remedy is there?
— House Intelligence Committee (@HouseIntel) January 30, 2020
The Week notes:
As CNN reports, a DOJ lawyer on Thursday said if the House needs to enforce a subpoena, one of its options is to use its impeachment powers.
Trump was impeached on obstruction of Congress after ordering aides to defy subpoenas that would have brought them to the House floor as witnesses. During the court hearing (related to the Trump administration’s efforts to change the census, not an impeachment-related hearing), DOJ lawyer James Burnham argued the House can’t ask the courts to enforce subpoenas — precisely what Trump’s impeachment lawyers are suggesting Democrats should have done. Trump’s legal team says Democrats should have fought in court for further witnesses, while Trump administration lawyers say courts have no right to enforce congressional subpoenas.