What is remarkable about these sweeping rulings is not the results, which were expected, but the speed with which they were issued. Mehta issued his 41-page ruling just seven days after hearing arguments.
If Trump’s team is not alarmed by the speed and sweeping nature—not to mention the almost dismissive tone—of the two judgments against the president, it should be. Trump’s strategy on a variety of fronts has been to take extreme positions denying congressional authority to investigate the president. On Monday, for example, the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel concluded that the president’s senior advisers are immune from subpoenas to testify about their official duties. Buried on Page 9 of the memo was an admission that the only court to consider this issue had ruled to the contrary. Hiding an unfavorable precedent in this manner might work on a first-year law student, but it won’t fool a federal judge.
Last week, White House counsel Pat Cipollone, arguing against having to produce the full Mueller Report and underlying materials, said the House Judiciary Committee lacked any “legislative purpose” for investigating Trump’s conduct as detailed in the Mueller report. He accused the House Judiciary of conducting a “pseudo law enforcement investigation.” Sound familiar?
The Achilles’ heel of Trump’s strategy is that his extreme positions are not fact-specific or nuanced and are easily disposed of as legally groundless.