“I would say it’s done,” Donald Trump told Fox News’ Catherine Herridge last night, but Congress certainly doesn’t think so. The House Judiciary Committee subpoenaed former White House counsel Don McGahn to testify further about conversations described in Robert Mueller’s special-counsel report, but Trump makes it clear that he will invoke executive privilege to prevent it. “They’ve testified for many hours” already, Trump explained, and Congress “shouldn’t be looking any more”:
President Trump told Fox News in an exclusive wide-ranging interview Thursday evening that the White House has lost patience with congressional Democrats, and forcefully dismissed their efforts to subpoena former White House counsel Don McGahn and other administration officials to testify.
“They’ve testified for many hours, all of them. I would say, it’s done,” Trump told Fox News’ Chief Intelligence Correspondent Catherine Herridge. “Nobody has ever done what I’ve done. I’ve given total transparency. It’s never happened before like this. They shouldn’t be looking anymore. It’s done.”
Attorney General Bill Barr made the right call in deciding not to appear before the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday, Trump said, following his testimony Wednesday in the Senate. House Democrats had insisted that committee counsel, rather than members of Congress, question Barr.
“It’s not up to me, it’s up to him,” Trump said, referring to Barr’s decision not to show up. “And they were going to treat him differently than they’ve treated other people. And of course we’ve been treated differently to start off with. We’ve gone through so many investigations, everybody. And it’s so ridiculous. No obstruction, no nothing — there’s been no nothing. There’s been no collusion, there never was, they knew that from day one.”
Late last night, Trump followed up with tweets calling for more cooperation and less partisan sniping now that Mueller has finished his investigation. He laid blame on both parties for the divisiveness while arguing that this is an opportunity to leave it behind:
…at every turn in attempts to gain access. But now Republicans and Democrats must come together for the good of the American people. No more costly & time consuming investigations. Lets do Immigration (Border), Infrastructure, much lower drug prices & much more – and do it now!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 3, 2019
That’s a good argument to make in heated times, although a bit weirdly conventional for Trump. He built his business and political reputations as a fighter, someone who punches back twice as hard and twice as often. That quality perhaps above all others allowed him to rise above a dozen and a half other Republicans whom voters saw as too much go-along-to-get-along establishmentarians. Now, after evidence has emerged that Trump did get “spied on” by the supposed “deep state,” those voters might expect — and desire — paroxysms of righteous Trumpian anger and retribution. An offer to sing “Kumbaya” around the campfire, while being the right call (and futile), might sound a little off-message to the cherished Trump base.
Not that it will make much difference either way. Jerrold Nadler will not sit quietly while Trump invokes executive privilege — he’ll go to court to argue that the White House waived it already with Mueller and that it can’t be retrieved now. The White House will argue that once was enough and that the special counsel’s report should be sufficient, but even so privilege attains to the president. Furthermore, because Mueller worked within the Department of Justice, Trump’s lawyers can argue that they waived privilege only within the executive branch, not with the legislative branch, and for a particular and non-partisan purpose. Who’ll win that argument? We’ll know when the Supreme Court takes it up in 2021, probably.
In the meantime … maybe we can all take a break from the drama and get back to work? Because Trump’s not wrong about that much, anyway.