Donald Trump’s Own Justice Department Just Undermined His Impeachment Defense

Television via AP)Senate Television/AP

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Donald Trump’s own Justice Department did something remarkable on Thursday: It managed to undermine the president’s legal defense in his impeachment trial.

During an unrelated federal court hearing Thursday about House Democrats’ investigation of Trump’s failed efforts to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, a federal judge asked DOJ lawyers what the House could do to enforce subpoenas that the administration has ignored. Justice Department lawyer James Burnham said that impeachment was an option, CNN reports. “The Justice Department has argued that the House can’t ask the courts to enforce subpoenas,” CNN noted.

But during Trump’s impeachment trial, his lawyers have argued just the opposite in response to allegations that Trump obstructed Congress by defying subpoenas. They have claimed that a president cannot be impeached over a failure to comply with congressional subpoenas and that Democrats should have instead gone to court to force administration witnesses to provide testimony. Trump ordered multiple White House officials, including chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, to ignore subpoenas during the House impeachment inquiry last year.

According to CNN, Burnham acknowledged the hypocrisy of the administration’s position but insisted that House Democrats had also contradicted themselves on the issue. “They are hypocrites. We are hypocrites, I guess,” he reportedly said, to laughter.

Lead House impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) brought up the contradiction during the impeachment trial Thursday. “You can’t make this stuff up,” he said. “The judge says, ‘If the Congress can’t enforce its subpoenas in court, then what remedy is there?’ And the Justice Department lawyer’s response is: ‘Impeachment.'”

“I mean, what more evidence do we need of the bad faith of this effort to cover up?” he added.

Watch the video of Schiff’s response below:

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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