Elijah Cummings won’t let witness have lawyer

Democrats on the House Oversight Committee want to depose John Gore about his role in the Trump administration’s decision to add a question to the 2020 Census about citizenship. Gore was acting as Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights when the decision was made.

Gore is prepared to testify and the administration is fine with him doing so. Attorney General Barr insists only that Gore be accompanied by an attorney.

Barr is right to attach this condition, one that, according to a Department of Justice spokesperson, is consistent with longstanding DOJ policy. The lawyer accompanying Gore would be be able to assert any privileges the executive branch may possess, including executive privilege.

Since the stated purpose of the deposition is to probe how the decision to add the Census question was made, the prospect that committee Democrats will encroach on executive privilege is real. That doctrine, as asserted by both Democratic and Republican administrations, limits inquiry into the executive branch’s deliberative processes.

Thus, if Democrats were to ask, say, about conversations between Gore and White House adviser Stephen Miller, the questioning might well be objectionable. If so, the lawyer accompanying Gore would assert executive privilege.

But Elijah Cummings, chairman of the oversight committee, will not permit an attorney to accompany Gore. Accordingly, the deposition, scheduled for tomorrow (Thursday) will not proceed.

Clearly, obtaining information from Gore is not the priority of Cummings and his fellow Democrats. Otherwise, they would permit a lawyer to accompany Gore, get what information they can, and (if necessary) fight any battles that may arise over executive privilege in court.

But that course of action wouldn’t maximize the Democrats’ real priority — feeding their narrative that the Trump administration is defying Congress without justification.

The Washington Post duly parrots this narrative in this article under the headline “Trump’s defiance puts pressure on Congress’s ability to check the president.” On the matter of Gore’s testimony, Post reporter Seung Min Kim writes:

[T]he Justice Department said it will not comply with a bipartisan subpoena from the Oversight Committee that sought testimony for its ongoing investigation of the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 Census.

That’s dishonest reporting. As noted, the DOJ is willing to have Gore testify. It just wants him to have a lawyer present. The Post fails to inform its readers of the real nature of this dispute.

The pattern is all too familiar. The Democrats decide on their anti-Trump theme de jour. Their media allies peddle that theme leaving out any facts that might call it into question.

If “democracy dies in darkness,” the Washington Post is doing its best to kill it.

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