Joe Biden has a literal Trump card to play against the House’s new impeachment inquiry.
In January 2020, the Donald Trump-led Justice Department formally declared that impeachment inquiries by the House are invalid unless the chamber takes formal votes to authorize them.
That opinion — issued by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel — came in response to then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s decision to launch an impeachment inquiry into Trump without initially holding a vote for it. Not only is it still on the books, it is binding on the current administration as it responds to Tuesday’s announcement by Speaker Kevin McCarthy to authorize an impeachment inquiry into Biden, again without a vote.
“[W]e conclude that the House must expressly authorize a committee to conduct an impeachment investigation and to use compulsory process in that investigation before the committee may compel the production of documents or testimony,” wrote Steven Engel, then the head of DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel, backing the Trump administration’s rejection of subpoenas from the Democratic congressional investigators.
“The House had not authorized such an investigation in connection with the impeachment-related subpoenas issued before October 31, 2019, and the subpoenas therefore had no compulsory effect,” Engel, a Senate-confirmed Trump appointee, concluded in his 54-page opinion. [Continue reading…]