The Constitution Doesn’t Allow House Committees to Investigate Trump

Lindsey Graham Must Testify in Georgia Elections Inquiry, Court Rules

Last Friday, the federal courts in Washington, D.C., rejected an objection by two of Georgia’s Republican lawmakers to a Freedom of Information Act request that had sought their emails, internal messages, speeches and other correspondence dating back to 2004. (The lawmakers also objected to another request by Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee, which was rejected in March.)

The courts sided with the state.

But what about the emails, texts, and other documents that President Trump’s attorney general wants the two lawmakers to turn over for his impeachment defense?

“While the House Judiciary Committee has the right to initiate impeachment inquiry, Speaker-designate Rep. Paul Ryan has to follow the Constitution and not to send a message to the American people that a House committee could investigate and possibly impeach the president of the United States,” House Speaker Paul Ryan’s spokeswoman, AshLee Strong, wrote in a statement.

The issue is that the Constitution requires that House committees investigate only “the business of the House.” And it’s a fair point. So far, the House Judiciary Committee has been investigating the whistleblower complaint regarding Trump’s July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky. The complaint alleged that Trump abused the power of his office to get the Ukrainian government to conduct investigations — and remove Democratic political opponents from office — that would hurt his political rivals.

Now, if the impeachment hearings conclude without any action by the House to impeach, or any other indication that the impeachment proceedings have any political motivation, the House cannot seek to get documents from Trump’s aides. Nor can the impeachment inquiry team call for witnesses that have offered information, the committee itself cannot testify to its investigation, and members cannot compel testimony.

But if the hearings do take place and begin to become public — and they won’t without House approval — the House can request documents from the White House, or its aides. (And they can issue subpoenas to compel voluntary witnesses to come forward.)

“It would be possible that the House could hold a deposition for documents they have not been able to obtain during the

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