Republicans haven’t seen the last of Merrick Garland — President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee who was denied a confirmation hearing in 2016.
Garland, the chief justice of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia (known as the nation’s second-most powerful court) will be hearing the appeal filed by President Trump’s attorneys over whether or not Trump has to comply with a Congressional subpoena. This comes after federal judge Amit Mehta ruled Monday that Trump has to comply with the subpoena from the House Oversight Committee requesting records from his accountant, Mazars USA LLP, dating back to 2011.
In his decision, Judge Mehta pointed out that Congress’ oversight authority over the executive branch was plainly demonstrated in both the Nixon and Clinton administrations — the first of whom was investigated for the Watergate scandal, and the latter for perjury, for which he was later impeached. Mehta used the impeachment example as reason why President Trump must comply with a simple subpoena from a Congressional committee.
“It is simply not fathomable that a Constitution that grants Congress the power to remove a president for reasons including criminal behavior would deny Congress the power to investigate him for unlawful conduct — past or present — even without formally opening an impeachment inquiry,” Mehta wrote in his 41-page ruling, which also stated that Trump’s legal defense had “fundamental” problems.
With Trump attorney Jay Sekulow’s promise that he would be filing an appeal on Mehta’s ruling with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, this would mean the final decision as to whether or not Trump’s accounting firm has to turn over years of Trump’s financial records will likely rest in the hands of Merrick Garland.
Even though President Obama appointed him with 10 months to go before the end of his presidency, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) refused to even allow a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Garland’s qualifications. He later referred to his blocking of Garland as “the most consequential thing” he’s ever done in his political career, as it led to President Trump appointing arch-conservative jurist Neil Gorsuch to a lifetime position on the U.S. Supreme Court.
Tom Cahill is a contributor for Grit Post who covers political and economic news. He lives in Bend, Oregon. Send him an email at tom DOT v DOT cahill AT gmail DOT com.