(Sept. 17) Set aside the offensive theatrics from Republicans, Democrats, and witness Corey Lewandowski during the House Judiciary Committee’s impeachment-related hearing today. All sides took what should have been a serious hearing and turned it into a farce that trampled on the public’s legitimate interests.

Instead, focus on a White House offense not against mere decorum, but against bedrock principles of American government.

In informing Lewandowski, a former top campaign aide to President Trump, that his Oval Office discussions with the president should remain secret due to “executive privilege,” the White House makes a mockery of the separation of powers and the public’s right to know. If a Democratic administration had tried to enforce such a claim, Republicans in Congress would have cried bloody murder.

And the Republicans would have been right. Today’s Republicans, though, acting as if they are defense attorneys rather than independent members of Congress with duties to the broader public weal, did nothing but provide diversionary cover for both Lewandowski and the president. Their behavior was shameful.

In layman’s language, here’s the key thing to remember: So-called “executive privilege” is a real but limited exemption from rules otherwise pertaining to government transparency and congressional inquiry. The privilege is nowhere in the Constitution except by logical derivations by second-degree inference, and even then the federal courts have expressly limited the privilege again and again in the past 45 years….

Later in the column… [Court-recognized doctrine] effectively limits coverage of the privilege to the administrative boundaries of the Executive Office of the President and the White House.”Here’s the rub: Lewandowski never was on the White House staff. He was and is no more in the ambit of the “administrative boundaries of the Executive Office” than he is under the protections of Obi Wan Kenobi.

The assertion of privilege here is ludicrous. …

[The full column is here.]


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