A federal judge appointed by President Donald Trump wanted to know if the House of Representatives could send the Sergeant at Arms to the Department of Justice to take subpoenaed documents at gunpoint if Attorney General Bill Barr refused to obey court orders to hand them over.
Let’s be honest, Barr is not an honorable man and the rule of law no longer matters to him, assuming it ever did at all. So, it’s entirely possible that he would continue to refuse to hand over documents even if every court in the land told him to surrender them immediately.
And so, what other option does the House have to execute the subpoenas?
That’s what federal Judge Neomi Rao, a Trump appointee, wanted to know during a hearing this week when she asked House General Counsel Doug Letter that very question, which stunned Letter to his core. But Rao went even further by asking if the House could send officers to the DOJ to take the documents at gunpoint, which could result in a gun battle between the Sergeant at Arms and Barr’s FBI security detail.
Letter: “That’s stunning. That’s just stunning. If this court rules that the House is entitled to this material, the Attorney General is going to say — no?”
Judge Rao: “I’m asking a hypothetical.”
Letter: “I guess what we would do is we would use the main remedy that the House has had from the beginning. We’ll send the Sergeant at Arms over to the Justice Department. I cannot imagine that anybody at the Justice Department is going to interfere with him doing his duty as an officer to the House. And he will pick up the grand jury materials, and he will bring them to the House.”
Judge Rao: “So you do have some methods of self-help that don’t require this court to intervein?”
Letter: “Absolutely. We can send the Sergeant at Arms, and he can go have a gun battle with –”
Judge Rao: “Why not avail yourself of that remedy?”
Letter: “The reason is obvious.”
Judge Rao: “Why is it obvious?”
“When was the last time that was done?” another voice can be heard asking but isn’t identified.
Letter: “That’s why — again, this was discussed in the first case — that’s why we don’t do that anymore. We don’t have the Sergeant at Arms go out and arrest people and have a gun battle with Mr. Barr’s FBI security detail. Instead, we go to court.”
Here’s the audio via Daily Motion:
One really has to ask if this is something Trump and his cronies want to see happen? After all, they would love nothing more than a bloody gun battle that they could splash all over the media while accusing liberals of trying to seize the government in a violent coup attempt.
This is why we have the rule of law and a court system to issue court orders. Rao needs to suck it up and do her job as a judge. She should know what the law is in this case, and that means Barr must surrender the subpoenaed documents or he will be in contempt of court. Of course, he’s already in contempt of Congress. If anything, the House should have him arrested by the Sergeant at Arms and put in a cell until he complies, a process they can repeat for any Trump official who refuses to comply.
Featured Image: Wikimedia