You may have a hard time believing a key argument the Trump administration is using to rebuff efforts by Congress to obtain information legislators need to do their job. The administration has claimed — for example, in a letter from the White House counsel to the House Judiciary Committee in response to congressional subpoenas of the full Mueller report — that Congress must demonstrate to the administration’s satisfaction that the information would serve a “legitimate legislative purpose.” In effect, Congress must show that its interests fall within the power under Article I of the Constitution to pass new legislation.
Faced with a similar argument last week in a hearing for a case involving Congress’s subpoena of Mr. Trump’s financial records, a district court judge, Amit Mehta, was highly skeptical.
But especially with the Mueller report, the administration’s claim isn’t just legally ridiculous. It actually puts our country at grave risk.
There’s a lot wrong with the administration’s position, including that oversight and investigations are a fundamental part of Congress’s Article I responsibilities. The Supreme Court has long recognized as much. Showing a specific legislative purpose is not required. That’s what Judge Mehta told Mr. Trump’s lawyers.
In fact, Congress has many important legislative purposes that would be served by access to the full Mueller report and underlying documents. The administration’s attempt to deny or slow roll the release of this information is hampering Congress’s ability to draft new legislation to protect our democracy from foreign adversaries. [Continue reading…]