Pompeo’s Letter Is the Trump Administration’s Opening Salvo of Obstruction

Setting aside the obvious and well-noted hypocrisy of Pompeo’s crocodile tears over congressional “bullying” given his approach to oversight on the Benghazi Select Committee, Pompeo’s letter sends an important signal about the Trump administration’s evolving approach to the impeachment inquiry.

The result has been a disaster for President Donald Trump and several of his advisors. Thus, it should be no surprise that the Trump administration now seems to be reverting to its previous strategy of total obstruction based on maximalist interpretations of executive authority. Pompeo’s letter is the first example, but it will certainly not be the last.

As for the House, some flexibility on the terms of depositions and document productions could be appropriate, at least if it feels it can trust the accommodations are being met in good faith. And it should carefully consider how far it is willing to take its adverse inference strategy. If, as one would expect, there are witnesses and documents the House really needs to conduct its impeachment inquiry, it may need to resort to litigation. But if the House decides to sue, it should strongly consider changing the tactics it has used to date. It may be time to consider emergency litigation–seeking temporary restraining orders and preliminary injunctions–to shorten lawsuit timetables from months to days or weeks.

An emergency litigation posture would match the severity of the moment, would put the House back in the driver’s seat after the administration’s retreat to total obstruction tactics, and, ultimately would send the signal that the House will not take no for an answer. The stakes are too high to let Pompeo’s response to the inquiry be the last word.

Article URL : https://www.justsecurity.org/66420/pompeos-letter-is-the-trump-administrations-opening-salvo-of-obstruction/

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