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July 12, 2018

IS CONGRESS ABOUT TO GET TOUGH (FINALLY!)? House Freedom Caucus Chairman Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) sounded supremely confident last night on Fox News, declaring, according to LifeZette’s Kathryn Blackhurst, that former FBI lawyer Lisa Page “will be held in contempt” if she doesn’t show up today or Friday to answer questions from members of the House Judiciary Committee and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

Meadows’ assertion prompted a crucially important reminder from liberal Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz that a congressional finding of contempt would be forwarded to the Department of Justice for enforcement. But DOJ under President Donald Trump and his predecessor, Barack Obama, has all but refused to enforce congressional subpoenas related to high-profile oversight investigations (Think Fast and Furious, Benghazi, IRS Targeting, FBI Hillary Email and Russia Collusion).

So, Dershowitz notes, “But if the Justice Department doesn’t do it, Congress is an independent branch of government. It can hold somebody in contempt. It can literally order the person to go into the basement jail cell, and then that person would have to go to court to seek a writ of habeas corpus.” Yes, Congress could have jailed then-Attorney General Eric Holder, then-IRS executive Lois Lerner and now Lisa Page for refusing to cooperate.

In fact, as I have repeatedly reported since Fast and Furious, jailing non-cooperative individuals is part of the inherent contempt power of Congress. It’s one of five tough tools the Founders gave Congress in making it the first and most powerful branch of the federal government. And it’s long past time for those tools to be used, at least if Congress wants its subpoenas to be obeyed.