Will the GOP House have the courage to pursue agencies that refuse to comply with subpoenas?
Leadership of House committees of the 118th Congress have announced plans to investigate previously unchecked administration activities or inactivity, including the administration's handling of the border crisis. The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) reported in August 2022 that nearly 4.9 million aliens had entered the United States since Joe Biden took office. At that rate, at least 11 million aliens will pour into the into the country during this administration's four-year term. This is compared to the 12 million who passed through Ellis Island in its full 152 years (1802–1954) of operation.
The House leadership is also acting to investigate the DOJ's discrepancies in handling of Joe Biden's and Donald Trump's possession of classified records. Already, the National Archives has declined to fully cooperate with the House Committees, deferring to federal investigators, and the DOJ has refused to produce requested documentation even though it was quick to produce documentation for the Democrat-run January 6 investigation committee.
On February 5, 2023, constitutional attorney Mark Levin on his television show, Life, Liberty, and Levin, explained that such unresponsiveness to the authority of Congress by the FBI, the attorney general, the Treasury Department, and the National Archives threatens America's balance of powers and our governmental system.
Mr. Levin said that, for Congress, "it is one thing to investigate. It is another to issue subpoenas. And still another to enforce its authority." He concludes that Congress has the constitutional authority to call witnesses before their committees and to subpoena documents. When other branches of the government, or anyone, stonewall Congress by refusing to comply with the authority of the representative arm of the government, it is incumbent upon Congress to exercise its "inherent contempt powers" to arrest the individuals for their contempt.
Indeed, the Supreme Court upheld this authority in 1935 when it confirmed Congress's authority to arrest assistant secretary of commerce William MacCraken for his contempt of Congress in his failure to produce requested documents.
The corruption of the administrative branch of government has been glaring for well over a decade, with former attorney general Eric Holder and director of IRS exempt organizations Lois Lerner both found in contempt of Congress in 2012 and 2014, respectively.
In fact, in the 113th Congress on July 10, 2014, Representative Steve Stockman (Texas) attempted just the action that Levin is urging. His H.R. 664 provided for the arrest of Lois Lerner who had been found guilty by of contempt of Congress.
Tired of the administration's continuous stonewalling of the House of Representatives at that time, Congressman Stockman told Megyn Kelly on Fox News's The Kelly File that Congress looks inept when it fails to take action against those in contempt. Two weeks after his appearance on Kelly's show, FBI agents were at Stockman's apartment door.
Congressman Steve Stockman.
For his trouble and his numerous other efforts in exposing deep corruption of the administration of the day, Stockman was indicted by a fourth grand jury after three had failed to find any possible guilt in him. He was ultimately convicted and sentenced to ten years in prison on stacked up charges surrounding non-profit organizations.
The corrupt justice system operated rather clandestinely back then. But more recently, we've seen the Justice Department more openly partner with Lerner's former non-profit division of the IRS to pursue numerous other effective conservatives on similar charges related to non-profits. Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon is just one case in point.
But where were other Republicans when Stockman attempted to exercise congressional inherent contempt powers? Perhaps Stockman's experience helps explain members' reluctance to exercise their powers.
Levin is correct to call upon Congress to defend its inherent power to hold individuals or entities accountable.
The question is — will the 118th Congress defend its constitutional authority, or will it merely be a loud but toothless tiger?
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0 license.