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OPINION

The Big Federal Government Lie

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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AP Photo/Susan Walsh

The eight most disingenuous words used these days by federal agencies are intended to hide their criminal activity: “I can’t answer. The matter is under investigation.” 

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These words are used to obstruct, mislead, delay and discourage congressional investigations into the legality of Executive Branch activity. In effect, they say: “Your question is impertinent, inconvenient and intolerable. How dare you question anything Executive Branch agencies are doing?” 

Unfortunately, this simple statement often achieves its goal of obstructing efforts by Congress to obtain information that it and the American people need and deserve to have, to ensure “government of, by and for the people,” instead of the federal bureaucracy. 

While Congress may be upset with the response, it is often cowed into accepting the assertion that presidents can protect their people from being investigated even for criminal conduct. However, fortunes and precedents can be reversed. 

If Republicans win the White House with a presidential candidate who sincerely wants to uphold the rule of law, restore justice to the legal system and hold the “Deep State” accountable, that president can make it happen.

The leading Presidential candidates for the Republican nomination have promised to fire the FBI director and clean house at the Department of Justice. If a Republican wins the presidency in November 2024, FBI Director Wray and Attorney General Garland will resign long before they can be fired. 

So, candidates, please, stop pandering. No one will be fired. It’s all pablum – worthless, insipid, oversimplified assertions, threats and promises.

Suppose a new president truly wants to clean up the deep, dark, corrupt state at the DOJ, FBI and other federal agencies. In that case, the Republican president need only waive Executive Privilege and issue an executive order declassifying all investigatory materials sought by the current Republican House of Representatives. Let Congress bleed the truth out of those subverting the Constitution.

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Executive compliance is simple. When Congress requests documents, the Executive should order them produced. When testimony is sought, provide it without asserting objections. Cooperate with the Republican House to find the truth and restore our republican form of government

Since the Nixon administration, presidents have asserted Executive Privilege thirty times to block congressional investigations. Presidential assertions included protecting the president’s brother (Billy Carter), girlfriends (Monica Lewinsky), mismanagement of funds (Solyndra), foreign affairs (Benghazi), gun running (Fast and Furious) and tape recordings (Watergate). Democrat and Republican administrations have routinely acted as though providing Congress with requested information concerning an investigation will somehow diminish their manhood.

Finding and eliminating corruption is for the benefit of the nation. Hiding corruption does not assist the president in the faithful execution of the law. 

The DOJ/FBI’s long-running minuet of never sharing information with congressional committees is a mechanism of deceit, not of protecting the independence and effectiveness of law enforcement, safeguarding informant identities, avoiding pre-trial publicity, or interfering with prosecutorial discretion.

The Supreme Court has long recognized the “…implied power [of Congress] to investigate and to compel the production of information” from the Executive Branch.

“Executive Privilege for presidential communications is limited to the quintessential power and nondelegation of Presidential power, and those are the core functions in the Constitution.” It should only be asserted to preserve those core constitutional functions. Claiming it beyond the core constitutional functions is a delaying tactic that often allows illegal conduct to continue.

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As to declassifying all documents related to alleged criminal activity in the Executive Branch, no president should ever intentionally or unintentionally cover it up. The American Bar Association has written: “Under the U.S. Constitution, the president as Commander-in-Chief is given broad powers to classify and declassify such information, often through executive orders.” 

While there are procedures for declassifying the materials, except for certain materials such as nuclear secrets, a president has almost total control to declassify records by executive order. Presidents at all times have the power to shine sunlight on government corruption. When they choose not to expose corruption, it is an intentional coverup.

Unfortunately, since the Nixon administration in the early 1970s, the Executive Branch has forced Congress to issue subpoenas to secure requested documents. Presidents achieve their goal of protecting corruption by requiring years of legal battles to enforce the subpoena.

Hopefully, there will be a Republican Congress, or at least a Republican House sworn in on January 3, 2025, and on January 20, 2025 a Republican president. Between January 3, 2025, and January 20, 2025, the Republican Congress can prepare the appropriate investigative letters to the incoming president, requesting the information needed to root out corruption, especially in the DOJ/FBI. 

On January 20, when the Republican president enters the White House, his first order of business should be to issue an executive order waiving executive privilege and formally declassifying the documents relating to all congressional investigations. 

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These waivers should encompass all alleged DOJ/FBI corruption, as described in the Durham, Mueller and Horowitz Reports, records of payments received by Joe and Hunter Biden and their family members from foreign countries, all matters associated with the development of a two-tier system of justice, efforts by the federal government to force social media companies to manipulate or censor information distributed to the public, and all other matters of high-level DOJ and FBI corruption.

By taking this approach, the president will tremendously assist the congressional investigation of DOJ/FBI misconduct, without investigating the departments he leads. If Congress finds evidence of criminal or unethical activity, it will refer the evidence to new appointees at a DOJ for appropriate prosecution.

Suppose Executive Branch personnel refuse to testify, or “take the Fifth” to protect their constitutional right not to be a witness against themselves. 

In that case, Congress can grant the Use Immunity, which compels their testimony but provides immunity to the witness for the new information provided. A witness who refuses to testify after being given Use Immunity can be cited for contempt of Congress and imprisoned.

It's time the federal government gets serious about corruption in government. 

More intriguing and overdue would be having a president who followed the advice humbly presented here. The nation might uncover who is actually running the Deep State.

William L. Kovacs has served as senior vice president for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, chief counsel to a congressional committee, and a partner in DC law firms. His book Reform the Kakistocracy (government by the least qualified, most unscrupulous) is the winner of the 2021 Independent Press Award for Political/Social Change. He can be contacted at wlk@ReformTheKakistocracy.com

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