I’m beginning to wonder whether anyone proofs Robert Levy’s comments or if he’s allowed to say anything he wants. His latest, “Is Congress Committing Governmental Suicide?” is just the latest example.

He writes, “The House spends its time investigating Donald Trump, a duty not found in the Constitution.” If he had done even the most rudimentary homework, he’d have found Article 1, Section 1: “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.”

Multiple Founding Fathers and early Supreme Court justices wrote in support of Congressional investigations. In fact, during its very first session (1789-1791), Congress both created the Rules and the Ways and Means committees, which held their first investigations. The first investigation of the executive branch happened in 1792.

I’m quite sure Mr. Levy thinks Trump should be allowed to do pretty much anything he wants. And I’m willing to bet he thinks Richard Nixon got a raw deal. After all, Nixon’s resignation came after investigations by Congress. But that was when Republicans members believed in upholding the law.

Bob Curtis, Pinehurst

(12) comments

Peyton Cook

Clinton invoked executive privilege Fourteen times. G. W. Bush invoked it six times. Obama invoked it in order to withhold documents related to Operation Fast and Furious and Attorney General was held that contempt. Trump has invoked it once. So it does exist. The President as Chief Executive of the Executive Branch does have that power.

Kent Misegades

TDS on display. Wow, some still have NDS over Nixon resigning before they could get him onto the electric chair. Get Over It - Trump won, the lady in the pantsuit lost.

Sally Larson

Kent, this isn't a stupid football game, it's our country and the apparent crook who's in charge.

Peyton Cook

Even before the 2016 election the Left has been after the President. Since the election they have continued their efforts to unseat a duly elected president. Nothing has worked, because he has done nothing wrong. The current investigation is based on a phone call to the new Ukrainian President who is fighting corruption. If you have read the transcript, there is no quid pro quo as alleged. Even the Ukrainian President says so. Rep Shiff is pursuing a Phishing expedition behind closed doors, not allowing any Republican participation, and leaking tidbits that are anti Trump. This smacks of a Spanish Inquisition type trial. Even the alleged Salem witches were faced by their accusers. The ongoing investigations of the Trump investigators will by the DOJ to uncover the illegal efforts of the Clinton campaign and the Obama administration to unseat Trump. The American people will see who the real villains are.

Sally Larson

No one has "been after" the president, he's brought it on himself. His questionable character, his lying, his lack of a moral compass, his bullying to get what he wants, his ignorance, his manipulations ...... This isn't the kind of person I would ever want to invite into my home and am certainly horrified he represents the United States to the world. He will be responsible for his own downfall, no one could do it as well as he can. You act like the Republicans haven't held meetings and votes behind closed doors to override the Democrats, don't be such a crybaby. It's about time Trump comes out behind the curtain and we see him for everything he really is. If you think he's so innocent then why can't we see his taxes? Because he doesn't want his base to see what a crook he really is.

Jim Tomashoff

Hey Peyton, you just wrote: "The current investigation is based on a phone call to the new Ukrainian President who is fighting corruption. If you have read the transcript, there is no quid pro quo as alleged." Did you see Trump's Chief of Staff, Mulvaney's press conference today? You know, the one where he explicitly said that "...we were holding up the money until they agreed to investigate the Democrats." And then he added, "...yes there was a quid pro quo." How do you explain that Peyton? There may be a job for you in the Administration as an assistant press liar, I mean, press secretary, if you can double talk your way out of my questions. Go for it!

Richard Wright

Congress is not conducting an investigation rather the Democratic Party is -- and even their inquisition is conducted in secret. Investigations should not commence on rumors. No, what the Democrats are doing will have long lasting consequences.

Dan Roman

Wright needs to read Article 1 of the U. S. Constitution, assuming he can read and can understand it. Yes, what Congress, at the moment the House of Representatives, is doing will have long lasting consequences, with any luck Trumps impeachment, resignation and/or defeat in 2020. That plus setting a president that the kind of awful behavior exhibited by Trump will never, ever be repeated by or tolerated in a sitting U. S. president.

Sally Larson

And no president should ever have the power to make any decisions without the approval of Congress. And Non-disclosure documents should be illegal in all government offices.

Peyton Cook

Read Article II. The President is the Chief Executive Officer of the Executive Branch. The Executive Branch is separate and coequal with the Legislative Branch and the Judicial Branch as the Chief Executive he has, by Supreme Court rulings to have “executive privilege” to withhold documents and Executive Department individuals from Congressional oversight if his his ability to run the Executive Branch is impinged upon. The call to the Ukrainian President is such a case. He did not have to release the transcript as was privileged. He did so the demonstrate that there was nothing untoward; and there wasn’t.

Jim Tomashoff

Not that this will matter, Peyton always demonstrates his propensity to engage in willful ignorance when doing so allows him to ignore actual facts that are contrary to what he believes. Peyton maintains that executive privilege is absolute. He writes: "The Executive Branch is separate and coequal with the Legislative Branch and the Judicial Branch as the Chief Executive he has, by Supreme Court rulings to have “executive privilege” to withhold documents and Executive Department individuals from Congressional oversight if his his ability to run the Executive Branch is impinged upon." Notwithstanding Peyton's erroneous assertion, executive privilege does not give the President the sole right to withhold documents or individuals from Congressional oversight. I have no idea what Supreme Court "rulings" he thinks that give the President this sole power. In point of fact, the Supreme Court ruled, in an 8 to 0 decision against President Nixon's position regarding executive privilege in U.S. v. Nixon. Here's a summary of the decision, even though we know Peyton will choose the path of willful ignorance to ignore it:

"The case arose out of the Watergate scandal, which began during the 1972 Presidential campaign between Democratic Senator George McGovern of South Dakota and President Nixon. On June 17, 1972, about five months before the general election, five burglars broke into Democratic headquarters located in the Watergate building complex in Washington, D.C.

In May 1973, Nixon's Attorney General, Elliot Richardson, appointed Archibald Cox to the position of special prosecutor, charged with investigating the break-in. In October 1973, Nixon arranged to have Cox fired in the Saturday Night Massacre. Nonetheless, public outrage forced Nixon to appoint a new special prosecutor, Leon Jaworski, who was charged with conducting the Watergate investigation for the government.

In April 1974, Jaworski obtained a subpoena ordering Nixon to release certain tapes and papers related to specific meetings between the President and those indicted by the grand jury. Those tapes and the conversations they revealed were believed to contain damaging evidence involving the indicted men and perhaps the President himself.

Hoping that Jaworski and the public would be satisfied, Nixon turned over edited transcripts of 43 conversations, including portions of 20 conversations demanded by the subpoena. James D. St. Clair, Nixon's attorney, then requested Judge John Sirica of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to quash the subpoena. While arguing before Sirica, St. Clair stated that:

The President wants me to argue that he is as powerful a monarch as Louis XIV, only four years at a time, and is not subject to the processes of any court in the land except the court of impeachment.

Sirica denied Nixon's motion and ordered the President to turn the tapes over by May 31. Both Nixon and Jaworski appealed directly to the Supreme Court, which heard arguments on July 8. Nixon's attorney argued the matter should not be subject to "judicial resolution" since the matter was a dispute within the executive branch and the branch should resolve the dispute itself. Also, he claimed Special Prosecutor Jaworski had not proven the requested materials were absolutely necessary for the trial of the seven men. Besides, he claimed Nixon had an absolute executive privilege to protect communications between "high Government officials and those who advise and assist them in carrying out their duties."

Less than three weeks after oral arguments, the Court issued its decision.

Within the court there was never much doubt about the general outcome. July 9, the day following oral arguments, all eight justices (Justice William H. Rehnquist recused himself due to his close association with several Watergate conspirators, including Attorneys General John Mitchell and Richard Kleindienst, prior to his appointment to the Court) indicated to each other that they would rule against the president. The justices struggled to settle on an opinion that all eight could agree to, however, with the major issue being how much of a constitutional standard could be established for what executive privilege did mean.

Burger's first draft was deemed problematic and insufficient by the rest of the court, leading the other Justices to criticize and re-write major parts of the draft. The final draft would eventually heavily incorporate Justice Blackmun's re-writing of Facts of the Case, Justice Douglas' appealability section, Justice Brennan's thoughts on standing, Justice White's standards on admissibility and relevance, and Justices Powell and Stewart's interpretation of the executive privilege.

The stakes were so high, in that the tapes most likely contained evidence of criminal wrongdoing by the President and his men, that they wanted no dissent. Despite the Chief Justice's hostility to allowing the other Justices to participate in the drafting of the opinion, the final version was agreed to on July 23, the day before the decision was announced, and would contain the work of all the Justices. Chief Justice Burger delivered the decision from the bench and the very fact that he was doing so meant that knowledgeable onlookers realized the decision must be unanimous.

The Court's opinion found that the courts could indeed intervene on the matter and that Special Counsel Jaworski had proven a "sufficient likelihood that each of the tapes contains conversations relevant to the offenses charged in the indictment". While the Court acknowledged that the principle of executive privilege did exist, the Court would also directly reject President Nixon's claim to an "absolute, unqualified Presidential privilege of immunity from judicial process under all circumstances."

The Court held that a claim of Presidential privilege as to materials subpoenaed for use in a criminal trial cannot override the needs of the judicial process if that claim is based, not on the ground that military or diplomatic secrets are implicated, but merely on the ground of a generalized interest in confidentiality. Nixon was then ordered to deliver the subpoenaed materials to the District Court.

Nixon resigned sixteen days later, on August 9, 1974.

Richard Wright

Dan - Somehow the left cannot respond with some personal attack. The House has not authorized an investigation - Pelosi did. Impeachment is a political eve3nt and the left has shown that they can take it to the next level. The House held votes before Nixon's and Clinton's impeachment inquires insuring the process was conducted in a transparent manner with the accused having representation -- and the minority party having subpoena powers. Otherwise you just trot out the typical left wing puff without facts.

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