by Peter Navarro
As the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack prepares to stage a show trial of Donald Trump on Capitol Hill this week, I have filed a lawsuit challenging the Select Committee’s gross violations of the Constitution’s separation of powers.
Yes, congressional committees do have the power to investigate. Yet, they can only do so in pursuit of a “legislative function,” e.g., to enact new rules, regulations, or policies.
What settled law explicitly rules out is the pursuit of a “judicial function” in which a congressional committee seeks to act as judge, jury, and executioner. That clearly violates the separation of powers – punishment is reserved exclusively for the judicial branch.
In this case, Nancy Pelosi’s Democrat-controlled House passed H. Res. 503 on May 21, 2021 to establish the committee; and the legislative activity of all seven of the committee’s Democrats reveal their clear intent to unconstitutionally punish Trump and his most senior advisors by subjecting us to the shame, humiliation, ostracization, banishment, denial of public office, and possible imprisonment that comes with being falsely accused of being insurrectionists seeking to overturn a fair election.
A sordid legislative history of these committee members spanning more than five years includes: a thoroughly discredited Russia hoax, two attempted impeachments, a Trump censure, and three House resolutions to remove Trump from office.
The committee’s chair, Bennie Thompson, himself created a task force in 2017 as part of the perpetuation of the Russia hoax and has described President Trump as “racist and unfit to serve.” Thompson also refused to show up for Trump’s 2017 inauguration.
Thompson’s chief lieutenant, Adam Schiff, was the lead investigator for the first Trump impeachment trial and the tip of the Democrat’s spear for the Russia hoax. After his hoax imploded, Schiff hired investigators to expand a probe into Trump “beyond Russia.”
Jamie Raskin, the lead House Impeachment Manager for the second impeachment trial, has referred to Trump as “a barbarian,” and likewise repeatedly pushed the Russia hoax. Raskin also led the charge in pushing a trifecta of House resolutions to remove Trump from office.
Zoe Lofgren has called Trump “an ignorant bigot” who “shames our country” while seeking “to disqualify him from holding future office.” Elaine Luria boycotted Trump’s 2020 State of the Union address and attempted to convict Trump in the court of public opinion of “high crimes and misdemeanors set by the Constitution.”
Pete Aguilar and Stephanie Murphy likewise voted “yes” on both impeachments and co-sponsored H.Res. 24 which initiated the second impeachment. In acting as judge and jury in the second impeachment trial, Aguilar falsely alleged that “President Trump attempted to use the power of his office to coerce a foreign government to interfere in an American election.”
Over the course of more than five years, these seven Democrats have sought to remove Donald Trump from office and prevent him from ever running for office again; and they have done so by repeatedly abusing their investigatory and legislative powers in serial violations of the separation of powers.
The only two Republicans on the Committee, Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, voted “yes” on the second Trump impeachment trial while Kinzinger repeatedly sided with the Democrats on the Russia hoax. For his anti-Trump activities, Kinzinger was forced out of running for reelection and clearly has a score to settle with Trump.
Cheney is a long-term foe because of Trump’s well-placed criticism that Cheney’s father Vice President Dick Cheney played a major role in prosecuting the “endless wars” in Afghanistan and Iraq. These wars needlessly killed or wounded hundreds of thousands of people and drained trillions of dollars from our Republic.
That Cheney, along with Thompson, seek to abuse the committee’s investigatory powers in violation of the separation of powers is evident in their public confession that the purpose of their investigation is to ensure “those responsible are held accountable.” Pelosi herself was caught on tape privately saying that “I do not want to see [Trump] impeached, I want to see him in prison.”
Clearly, Pelosi’s committee is seeking to build a criminal case against President Trump while four of the president’s most senior advisers – including myself – have already been held in contempt and face possible prison terms and fines for refusing to be accomplices to the committee’s star chamber.
The June hearings that begin this week will effectively be the committee’s opening argument in support of a trumped up, Stalin-like criminal case against Donald Trump; and it is high time that our judicial branch puts a stop to the committee’s gross violations of the separation of powers.
Here, we should take Pelosi at her word when she described the formation of this committee as “unprecedented.” It is indeed unprecedented for a rabidly partisan and score-settling congressional committee to abuse such powerful investigatory powers. By her own words, Pelosi has invited the judicial branch of our government to clearly establish the precedent that congressional committees do not have the legal authority to act as judges, juries, and executioners behind the mask and shield of putatively legitimate legislative functions.
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Peter Navarro is the former assistant to the president for trade and manufacturing policy in the Trump White House and author of “In Trump Time: A Journal of America’s Plague Year.”