Rep. McClintock: Trump Would 'Shatter the Doctrine of Executive Privilege' by Allowing Top Officials to Testify

By Susan Jones | December 2, 2019 | 5:45am EST
Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) (Photo by HECTOR MATA/AFP via Getty Images)
Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) (Photo by HECTOR MATA/AFP via Getty Images)

( - Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.), a member of the House Judiciary Committee, said on Sunday he believes it would be to President Trump's advantage to allow former National Security Adviser John Bolton and Acting White House Chief of Staff/OMB Director Mick Mulvaney to testify before the House Judiciary Committee, where the impeachment proceedings are now heading.

But McClintock said he understands why the White House objects.

Martha Raddatz, the host of ABC's "This Week," asked McClintock if he believes Bolton and Mulvaney should testify:

"Absolutely," McClintock responded.

And, in fact, yes, it is to the president's advantage to have them testify now. But, of course, he has to weigh in that against the enormous catastrophic damage that would do to the doctrine of executive privilege that assures that when policy is being developed within the administration, those discussions are unfettered, are candid, are thinking outside of the box.

"That's why the doctrine of executive privilege exists. So, he's got to weigh those two elements. And I understand why he's making the decision that he is, to defend that doctrine of executive privilege, not only for his administration but for all administrations.

"So you believe they should testify, but not say much?" Raddatz asked McClintock:

"No, I think it would be in his advantage to have them testify," McClintock repeated. "But, again, that would shatter the doctrine of executive privilege. And that's the -- the question that he has to weigh in whether to invoke that privilege."

Raddatz brought up President Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, who pressed the Ukrainians to look into alleged interference in the 2016 election as well as Hunter Biden's well-paid position on the board of the Ukraine energy company Burisma.

Should Giuliani testify? Raddatz asked.

"Well, again, I think more information is better than less in every aspect of an inquiry, and the adversarial process is very important to test what's true and what's not," McClintock said.

"My objection to what the Congress has done is it has impeded that process by vetoing Republican witnesses and by interfering with the -- with the due process rights of the president and what is a quasi-judicial proceeding."

McClintock said it would be good for Trump to have his lawyers participate in the Judiciary Committee's first impeachment hearing, which is scheduled for this Wednesday.

"That's his right. But I can also understand how he is upset at the illegitimate process that we saw unfolding in the Intelligence Committee.

"The big question is going to be whether (Chairman) Jerry Nadler continues that into the Judiciary Committee's hearings or whether he respects the due process rights of the president not only to be represented by counsel but also to have the unrestricted right to call witnesses in his defense and to confront his accuser?"

McClintock said he expects Judiciary Committee Republicans to call witnesses, but it remains to be seen how many will be allowed.

"I know the discussions are ongoing, as to the witnesses that we would like to call. As you recall in the intelligence hearings, Republicans asked for nine witnesses. Adam Schiff vetoed six of those.

"In a free society, the prosecution doesn't get to choose what witnesses the defense wishes to call," McClintock said. "And yet, that's what's been going on in the intelligence committee. And again, the question is going to be whether Jerry Nadler continues that sham in the Judiciary hearings?

"When it goes over to the Senate, that's going to play a big role I think in the Senate's deliberation. They I think will insist on full due process rights and that could blow up in the Democrats' faces," McClintock said.

Hours after McClintock spoke to ABC News, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone wrote a letter to Judiciary Committee Chairman Nadler, telling him the White House will not participate in the hearings:

Press reports quoted the following from Cipollone's letter:

As for the hearing scheduled for December 4, we cannot fairly be expected to participate in a hearing while the witnesses are yet to be named and while it remains unclear whether the Judiciary Committee will afford the President a fair process through additional hearings. More importantly, an invitation to an academic discussion with law professors does not begin to provide the President with any semblance of a fair process. Accordingly, under the current circumstances, we do not intend to participate in your Wednesday hearing.

At the end of her interview with McClintock, Raddatz asked the congressman if there is anything that Trump did involving Ukraine "that is wrong or concerns you in any way?"

McClintock said he had no problem with Trump's July 25 phone call to Ukraine President Zelensky:

"The president conducts our foreign policy. He's commanded to take care that the laws be faithfully enforced. And the National Defense Authorization Act, which authorized aid to Ukraine in the first place, requires that the administration determines that that country is taking step steps to combat corruption before he releases the aid. As I read his conversation with Zelensky, that's exactly what he was doing.

McClintock noted that Trump, in that July 25 call, "didn't use the delicate language of diplomacy in that conversation. That's true. He also doesn't use the smarmy talk of politicians. What you hear from Donald J. Trump is the blunt talk of a Manhattan businessman. He says what he means, he means what he says.

"That's the only thing that's remarkable about that conversation. But he was entirely within his constitutional authority and was following the statute that Congress adopted in granting aid to the Ukraine."


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