With all the ‘talk, talk, talk’ going on about the Impeachment investigation I thought it would be nice to lay out the possible paths we may be fallowing in the near future. I’ll start with where we are now, with the Secretary of State Pompeo not honoring the House subpoenas for depositions by State Department employees. We can now ignore, or prune, that branch of the tree that starts with full cooperation.
What are the possible actions now? In no particular order of preference there seems to be three possible branches. Branch one: Increased resistance by the Executive branch. The next Branch is that the resistance stays as low key as possible and the final branch is acquiescence to the subpoenas.
I do not find the third Branch likely but it is the cleanest/simplest. What can follow it is that the House Committees either find sufficient evidence to recommend to the House to vote Impeachment or It doesn’t. If the person(s) being investigated are truly innocent of any impeachable actions this would be the best course for everyone concerned. Given the current evidence available to the public this does not seem likely as it does seem to show that Donald Trump did, in fact, attempt to get a foreign government to provide a thing of value for his upcoming campaign. Of course it is possible for the President to argue that Op Research is not a thing of value. Also it can be argued that he really didn’t ask for this. The problem is both arguments are quite thin and really don’t play well with an impartial jury.
So let us take on the first Branch of the tree, complete non-compliance subpoenas has and total resistance to giving evidence to the House Committees. This branch leads very quickly to either the House caving in and waiting to see just what the election in 13 months brings. Or the house can attempt to use it’s more usual method of enforcing it’s subpoenas by asking the Justice Department to bring criminal contempt charges. This would lead to another set of branches, the JD could honor the request or just ignore the request or responded that they see no merit in the request.
Let’s look at this last one first. Finding that the request for criminal contempt was with out merit would force the House to either just cave in or move quickly to using inherent contempt. More on inherent contempt later. Just ignoring the request has the advantage of burning time while leading eventually to the same two branches of finding no merit. As far as honoring the request for Criminal Contempt this leads to the problems of having the Attorney General go against the wishes of the President, something the current President doesn’t take well. Look for this to happen if Pres. Trump has found a way to get someone else to take the fall. In any case this path leaders inevitably to either the House passing/not passing a bill of Impeachment.
So now let us look at the possibilities of those branch’s above that lead to the use of inherent contempt which will entail having the House Sargent at Arms arresting the person or persons. As inherent contempt has not been used since 1934 (85 years) it is almost anyone’s guess on just how it will be worked now. Something to what for is actions taking place in the House Sargent at Arms office and in/around the cells in the House basement. This action by the house could quite easily lead to one of two events/branches. First, and most likely is that the person or persons peacefully submit to arrest. They also could resist the arrest. The resisting could take many forms, all the way from just not letting the persons from the House Sargent at Arms into the building the person to be arrested is in all the way up to having the persons own security detachment forcefully protecting their charge from the people attempting to make the arrest. This last would be very bad for all concerned and while possible I really don’t see it happening.
Let us look at the breach that leads to the person or persons who are defying the Congressional Subpoena(s) being taken into custody. The House would have to hold a trial and this trial could be long or short depending on the House Membership and just how strong the person(s) being held is. It is customary to drop the Contempt Charge(s) if the person so charged takes action to make amends. If the House does find them in Contempt they have several options ranging from fines to imprisonment. This can last till the current congress expires in just over a year from now. It is also possible that if these persons are of sufficient rank, that is they hold a non-selective service job (and in some cases even if they do) they too can be impeached and removed from office. (Please note that being removed from office by conviction on impeachment is tantamount to being fired for cause and you loose all benefits etc.)
That is all I can foresee for now. More later as thing become either more murky, less murky, or stay the same.