None of this will end well

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Whether you choose to use the phrase “constitutional crisis” to describe the current state of affairs or not, it’s quite clear that we are in the midst of a historic fight over the system of checks and balances that have long governed how the legislative, executive and judicial branches interact with one another.

Consider:

  • The House Judiciary Committee voted this week to hold Attorney General Bill Barr in contempt for his refusal to turn over the full, unredacted Mueller report. 
  • House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) on Friday issued subpoenas in order to get President Donald Trump’s past tax returns.
  • The White House barred former counsel Don McGahn from complying with a subpoena to testify on Capitol Hill.
  • Trump invoked executive privilege over the entire Mueller report
  • The Senate Intelligence Committee subpoenaed Donald Trump Jr.

Everywhere you looked, there was a battle between the White House and Democrats (and even Republicans!) in Congress. 

Trump and his White House have made the calculation that total resistance to Democratic requests for oversight is their best hope of slow-walking any investigations and shoring up the President’s political base in advance of 2020.

Congressional Democrats, meanwhile, view Trump’s resistance as an existential threat to the separation of powers and the co-equal status of the legislative branch. (Plus, fighting with Trump is just what their base wants, too.)

No one really knows how the various legal proceedings occasioned by this series of standoffs will end. And there’s no guarantee that one side wins all the legal fights. We may face a split decision of sorts.

But here’s what is certain: None of this is good or healthy for our body politic. No matter the result of this game of chicken, one side — and maybe both sides! — will feel hard done and, as a result, will paint the results as either biased or something short of definitive. Which, in turn, will further erode people’s confidence in our system of government and the people they have elected to represent them.

The Point: This sort of showdown produces lots of losers and very few winners. None of what is happening right now in Washington will end well. None of it.

Below, the week that was, in 30 headlines.

Monday:

Tuesday:

Wednesday:

Thursday:

Friday:



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