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If the President Does It

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The borscht continues to thicken:

A potentially explosive complaint by a whistle-blower in the intelligence community said to involve President Trump was related to a series of actions that goes beyond any single discussion with a foreign leader, according to interviews on Thursday.

The complaint was related to multiple acts, Michael Atkinson, the inspector general for American spy agencies, told lawmakers during a private briefing, two officials familiar with it said. But he declined to discuss specifics, including whether the complaint involved the president, according to committee members.

Separately, a person familiar with the whistle-blower’s complaint said it involves in part a commitment that Mr. Trump made in a communication with another world leader. The Washington Post first reported the nature of that discussion. But no single communication was at the root of the complaint, another person familiar with it said. 

The complaint cleared an initial hurdle when Mr. Atkinson deemed it credible and began to pursue an investigation. But it has prompted a standoff between lawmakers and the acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, who has refused to turn it over to Congress, as is generally required by law. It has become the latest in a series of fights over information between the Democratic-led House and the White House.

In a related matter:

Lawyers for President Trump argued in a lawsuit filed on Thursday that he cannot be criminally investigated while in office, as they sought to block a subpoena from state prosecutors in Manhattan demanding eight years of his tax returns.

Taking a broad position that the lawyers acknowledged had not been tested, the president’s legal team argued in the complaint that the Constitution effectively makes sitting presidents immune from all criminal inquiries until they leave the White House. 

The president “cannot be subject to criminal process, for conduct of any kind, while he is serving as president,” the lawyers wrote in the complaint, filed in Manhattan federal court.

Thanks to reader Bryan who purchased me a copy of American Carnage. I’m still in the Obama stage of the story, but I will say that unlike a lot of moderate conservatives Alberta is very clear about the role that racial resentment played in the Tea Party, linking it to Romney becoming the darling of conservatives in 2008 (Laura Ingrham urged him not to drop out before his speech at CPAC) by running to the far right on immigration. But let us savor this quote again:

“We’ve been fighting against an imperial presidency for five and a half years,” he said in June 2016, after Trump had captured the nomination. “Every time we go to the floor and push back against an overreaching president, we get accused of being partisan at best and racist at worst. When we do it against a Republican president, maybe people will see that it was a principled objection in the first place. So we actually welcome that opportunity. It might actually be fun, being a strict-constitutionalist congressman doing battle with a non-strict-constitutionalist Republican president.”

Or maybe they won’t!

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