On Monday, The New York Times published lengthy list of supposed questions that special counsel Robert Mueller wanted to ask President Donald Trump as part of his investigation, even though very few of those questions had anything to do with alleged collusion or Russian interference in the 2016 election.
One day later, The Washington Post — citing the usual anonymous sources — reported that Mueller’s team had held a “tense meeting” in March with Trump’s legal team. During that meeting, Trump’s lawyers informed Mueller that the president was under no obligation to speak with investigators.
However, Mueller reportedly countered with the suggestion that he could simply issue a subpoena against Trump that would compel him to appear before a grand jury. It was a prospect that didn’t go over particularly well with Trump’s lawyers.
Nor did the thought of a subpoena forcing Trump to appear before a grand jury sit well with former U.S. Attorney Joe diGenova. During a Wednesday appearance on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News program, diGenova absolutely ripped into the idea and issued a direct warning to Mueller that doing so would be blatantly illegal.
“It’s not an ongoing investigation, there is no crime. They’ve already conceded that the president is not a target,” DiGenova stated.
“They’re asking those 49 questions that they want to ask the president, maybe even with a grand jury subpoena, because they want to impeach the president,” he continued. “This has nothing to do with a criminal investigation. Donald Trump has done nothing wrong, he’s conspired with no one.”
“Go ahead, please issue the subpoena,” challenged diGenova, “because it will be an unconstitutional subpoena, an illegal subpoena, because there is no authority under federal law to issue a subpoena to a president of the United States to get testimony from him so it can be used in an impeachment proceeding.”
“That use of a grand jury is illegal, absolutely illegal,” diGenova warned.
As the former U.S. attorney and Trump-supporting lawyer stated, there isn’t any provision in the Constitution that allows for criminal subpoenas to be issued against a sitting president. Nor can the president be compelled to appear or testify before a grand jury.
Indeed, one would presume that the Fifth Amendment would directly preclude such a thing from occurring, as it would conceivably force Trump to provide evidence that might be viewed as incriminating or could later used against him.
The fact that this possibility has even been raised by Mueller — assuming of course that The Post’s anonymous sources were correct in their leaks and weren’t disseminating “fake news” — is rather concerning.
In fact, it potentially calls his entire investigation into question.
This talk of issuing a subpoena against Trump to compel him to testify before a grand jury displays a disregard for the law and certainly makes it look like the entire Russia probe is more about investigating a specific person instead of an alleged crime.
To borrow a phrase often used by sanctimonious liberals, “That’s not who we are in this country.”
We don’t investigate people and hope to find a crime to pin on them. That is what tyrannical governments like the former Soviets or communist Chinese do. Rather, we investigate specific crimes and find out who committed them so that we can hold the guilty parties accountable.
It remains to be seen if diGenova’s stark warning to Mueller will be taken to heart or fall on deaf ears, but Mueller and his team should tread lightly going forward, as Trump’s team appears ready to pounce on any legal misstep they might make.
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