Rep. Speier Wants Lewandowski to Be Fined for 'Inherent Contempt'

Susan Jones | September 18, 2019 | 5:23am EDT
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President Donald Trump's former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski testifies before the House Judiciary Committee on September 17, 2019. (Photo by Olivier Douliery/ AFP/Getty Images)

( - Because former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski did not indulge the Democrats' "get Trump" efforts at Tuesday's House Judiciary hearing, some say he should be punished, even though Lewandowski complied with the committee's subpoena and did answer some, but not all of their questions about facts that already are known.

"I think you have to look at Mr. Lewandowski as an adverse witness," Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), a member of the House intelligence and Oversight Committees, told CNN on Tuesday.

"He had no interest in complying with this actual subpoena, outside of showing up. He intended to obstruct justice once again, frankly, by not being willing to give answers to questions by the Democrats.

"I think if I were Mr. Nadler right now, I would be slapping Mr. Lewandowski with an inherent contempt order and calling him in front of the House of Representatives and fining him, because he is a key witness," Speier said.

"He is refusing to answer. And so, when you refuse to answer, I think you have but one course of action. And that is by ensuing what would be calling inherit contempt and then start fining him.

"And the only thing that talks around this administration is money. So if you start fining him, let's say, $5,000, $10,000, $15,000 a day, at some point, you are going to get him to comply."

(Asked about Speier's suggestion, Lewandowski told Fox News Tuesday night, "And Jackie Speier wants to fine me? For what, coming to Congress and testifying in open Congress under oath?")

Speier noted that the Mueller report detailed ten incidents that might be construed as obstruction of justice, but did not rise to that level because of Justice Department guidance that a sitting president cannot be indicted in most cases. Mueller indicated that it was up to Congress to impeach Trump where Mueller could not indict him.

Democrats on Tuesday seized on one of those incidents -- President Trump dictating a message to Lewandowski for him to deliver to then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, telling Sessions to stop the Mueller investigation.

Lewandowski never delivered Trump's message -- he told the committee he went on vacation instead -- and Mueller himself said his investigation was never impeded by President Trump.

CNN's Jake Tapper followed up with Speier: "You are saying that you think Jerry Nadler, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, should cite Lewandowski, issue a citation, so he is in contempt of Congress. That is what you are saying?"

"That is correct. That is really where I stand on it," Speier responded. "I certainly would not try to suggest what Mr. Nadler should be doing. But if I were in his shoes, that is what I would be doing, because it is very clear what they want to do. They want to prevent us from doing a fulsome investigation of impeachment.

"And they will prevent people from coming to testify. We will then go to court under a civil contempt proceedings, where then that will wind its way through court over a long period of time, and we will get that result two or three years down the road," Speier said.

"This is a president that does not respect the rule of law. How many more examples do we need to put before the American people to establish that?" Speier asked.

But Democrats on Tuesday were not doing a "fulsome investigation." They were doing their best to reiterate, to re-enact, what the Mueller report already said.

In an interview with Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), who sits on the Judiciary Committee, CNN's Wolf Blitzer noted that the American public didn't learn anything new at Tuesday's hearing because it's all included in the Mueller report.

That doesn't matter, Jeffries indicated: "We've understand clearly that we have to bring the 443- or 444-page Mueller report to light. You can't do that with a singular individual, Bob Mueller, or a singular witness testifying today, Corey Lewandowski, because they all play different parts in the story that we have to tell.

"The Trump administration clearly doesn't want that story to be told. All we're simply trying to do is to follow the facts, apply the law, be guided by the Constitution and make sure that the truth is presented to the American people."

(The truth already has been presented to the American people via Mueller, and polls indicate the majority of Americans do not favor impeachment.)

Blitzer told Jeffries that Tuesday's contentious hearing was a "spectacle."

"Well, we understood that Corey Lewandowski was there to try to put on a show for one individual, Donald Trump," Jeffries said. "He wasn't there to tell the truth.

"But the reality is that if we are going to examine the episodes of obstruction of justice and abuse of power and the culture of corruption at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, you have to present fact witnesses to the American people. And that was done today. This is just a small part of the story that we'll have to tell as we move forward.

"And so we take seriously our responsibility on the Judiciary Committee to do just that. The House is a separate and coequal branch of government. We don't work for Donald Trump, we work for the American people. And this is information we need to gather and put forward."

Jeffries noted that Lewandowski is mulling a run for the U.S. Senate.

"And he was there probably to try to launch his senatorial campaign, not necessarily to take seriously his responsibility as a witness to participate in this hearing on behalf of the effort to find the truth for the American people."

Lewandowski told Fox News Tuesday night that he simply "reiterated what the American people already knew. There was no collusion. There was no obstruction. The Mueller report was clear about that.

"And what we know is that the far left wing of the Democratic Party has to have these hearings to protect themselves in their congressional districts from further left progressives who want to take them out in their primary races.

"This is all politics. And the truth is it's a disservice to the American people."

Lewandowski told Fox News the same thing he told the committee: "I have nothing to hide, because we never committed any crimes at the campaign. We never colluded with anyone, which is exactly what the Mueller report says."


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