In the tale of the seemingly neverending dog and pony show that is the increasingly likely impeachment inquiry into the crimes and misdemeanors of the President of the United States, the latest chapter has given us the beginning of a genuine constitutional crisis.
In a move which itself could amount to being an obstruction of justice, Charles Kupperman, a former deputy advisor to the National Security Secretary John Bolton, has been prevented by the White House from appearing at the House Judicial Inquiry into the Impeachment of the President. The White House has declared 'total immunity' from any subpoena that the House Judiciary Committee might issue.
This is massive.
One one hand the House of Representatives has the sole power of impeachment under the US Constitution. On the other hand, while the inquiry is in fact into the conduct of the President with regards 'high crimes and misdemeanors', there is still an unanswered question of whether or not that extends to those people under the employ of the President.
In addition to this is the secondary question of whether or not an order from the executive as vested in the person of the President constitutes an executive order.
Kupperman's lawyers in the meantime have advised him to ignore any and all subpoenas until this question is resolved; presumably by the Supreme Court who has the power to 'say what the law is' per Madison v Marbury (1803).
The reason why the House Judicial Committee wants to interview Kupperman in particular is because he was privy to certain conversations with regards the NSA, and security surrounding the personal attorney to the President Rudy Guiliani, and his dealings with the Ukraine Government. Specifically he can corroborate existing evidence that very heavily suggests that Mr Trump attempted to set up a kind of shadow foreign diplomatic channel in addition to the official ones, with the purpose of investigating the Bidens.
Before anyone questions the legitimacy of the House's Impeachment Inquiry, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said that there will be a vote on the floor of the House by the end of the week, to finally lay out the rules, terms and scope of the impeachment inquiry. Presumably this will also lay out the text of what the House can expect in regards the representation of the President, which he has previously demanded even though he would refuse to appear before the House.
Naturally the President described the whole impeachment inquiry as being political as though it was a pejorative but in reality that is like describing a lion as a big cat. Of course any impeachment proceedings are going to be political because every single major position in all three branches of government, which includes the House, the Senate, the President, and the Supreme Court, are all decided by election or appointment by people who have been elected. How can any inquiry which is conducted by an elected body be anything but political? Furthermore, if an impeachment inquiry is the check into the use of power, then by definition it must be political considering that politics itself is to do with the enactment of policy and the exercise of power.
What ever the outcome is of the impending Supreme Court decision, it will have ramifications to do with the balance of powers between the various branches of the three ring circus that is the US Government, forever.
This case materially pits the power of the executive branch directly against the ability of the legislative branch to conduct its oversight function as spelled out in the Constitution. Whereas previously, the executive branch would not have wanted to test the limits of where the separation of powers lies, this executive is not only prepared to find those limits but forever change them and if necessary, break the norms in order to solidify them for purely short term gain.
Robert Mueller famously did not subpoena the President, citing that the question of whether or not a sitting President could be subpoenaed, was still open. This case of The United States vs Kupperman (2019), still does not go so far as to answer that central question but it would answer a like question. The Executive Branch can claim total congressional immunity but my hope is that the courts strike that off. I personally find the idea that anyone, whether they be the lowest peasant to the king, as being subject to the laws of the land, as the only acceptable and reasonable outcome. If the courts do decide that the President does have the power to declare people as not being subject to the law, then the President is actually a tyrant who is backed by law.
That's not even hyperbole. Although Fox News would paint the picture that this is about overturning the results of an election, it is not. The result of the election is not in dispute. This is about the removal of an individual who thinks and acts as though he is above the law and has used the instrument of government to break it.
In this case, that same individual is also prepared to break the instrument of governments themselves.