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Here are the FACTS about Pelosi's and Nadler's so-called 'constitutional crisis' over the Mueller report

Conservative Review

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., says that the United States is in a "crisis" because the administration is violating the Constitution in its standoff with House Democrats over the Mueller report.

The facts, however, tell a different story.

"If your question is will the administration violate the Constitution of the United States and not abide by the request of Congress in its legitimate oversight responsibilities, that remains to be seen," the speaker told reporters at her weekly press conference on Thursday. "Every day they are advertising their obstruction of justice by ignoring subpoenas" and other objections to House Democrats' demands.

Pelosi went on to say that she agrees with House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., in his assertion that the United States is supposedly now in the middle of a "constitutional crisis" because "the administration has decided that they are not going to honor their oath of office."

So, are the Trump administration's actions really a violation of the Constitution? Let's do a quick fact-check here. What does the Constitution say about this particular situation? Not that much.

Here are the facts:

  • Attorney General Barr released a redacted version of a confidential report on the Mueller report, which he was under no statutory obligation to do.
  • Nadler subpoenaed the full, unredacted Mueller report and its underlying evidence from the Department of Justice.
  • The Department has objected to this, saying that the requested materials contain grand jury information that is protected by section 6(e) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.
  • That section of the rules says that grand jury information cannot be made public without a court order, which has not been issued.
  • Despite all this, the DOJ has allowed a dozen members of Congress to come and view a less-redacted version in a secure location at the Department.
  • None of the six permitted Democrats have come forward so far to take advantage of that offer.
  • The Department of Justice has reiterated its invitation for Nadler to come view the less-redacted report and work out a compromise in compliance with federal rules.
  • House/DOJ talks fell apart, and House Democrats scheduled contempt proceedings against Barr.
  • In response to the contempt proceedings, the White House invoked executive privilege over the contested portions of the Mueller report.

The House of Representatives' own website acknowledges that the "Constitution says nothing about congressional investigations and oversight," but says that Congress' oversight powers were rather implied by historical understanding of the Founders, who got their understanding of it from Congress' forerunners in the British parliament.

There's no specific language in the document that gives Congress the ability to issue subpoenas, nor is there anything that outlines how the executive branch is supposed to respond to congressional subpoenas that demand information that can't be released without a court order.

And given the nature of the situation, the argument could very easily be made that the executive branch has already more than upheld its constitutional obligations to Congress' implied oversight powers by its repeated offers to allow leaders from both parties from both chambers to come and view the document, minus the secret grand jury information.

At most, we appear to be looking at a constitutional question — not a crisis.

Full video of Pelosi's press conference can be found here:

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