In 1998, Oprah Winfrey’s talk show aired an episode on food safety and mad cow disease. She declared that the discussion “has just stopped me cold from eating another burger.” That remark enraged Texas cattlemen, and the segment was widely viewed as contributing to a drop in cattle prices. Members of the industry sued Winfrey for disparaging beef.
She hired Phil McGraw’s legal consulting firm to prepare her for the Amarillo trial. After Dr. Phil rescued Oprah, he became a fixture on television screens. He solved problems, dispensed common sense and spouted folk wisdom.
My favorite Phil-ism is, “People who have nothing to hide, hide nothing.” That’s wise advice. If you’re not forthcoming with what you know, it looks like you’re hiding something. When truth is elusive, suspicion attaches, guilt hovers.
I wish Phil’s maxim guided politicians. Donald Trump acts like he’s hiding something, because he claimed executive privilege to shield documents related to the House Select Committee investigation of the Capitol riot. November 9, U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan declined to issue a preliminary injunction sought by Trump’s lawyers.
In denying a preliminary injunction, Chutkan said Congress had a strong public interest in obtaining records that could shed light on a violent insurrection mounted by the former president’s supporters. She added that President Biden had the authority to waive executive privilege over the documents, despite Trump’s assertions otherwise.
“At bottom, this is a dispute between a former and incumbent President,” Chutkan wrote. “And the Supreme Court has already made clear that in such circumstances, the incumbent’s view is accorded greater weight.”
Chutkan said Trump “does not acknowledge the deference owed” to Biden’s judgment as the current president. She noted examples of past presidents declining to assert executive privilege and rejected what she said was Trump’s claim that executive privilege “exists in perpetuity.” She added, “Presidents are not kings, and Plaintiff is not President.”
Trump’s lawyers swiftly appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. A three-judge panel gave Trump a reprieve, temporarily delaying the release of his documents, while it hears the former president’s legal challenge. The case will likely eventually head to the Supreme Court.
What is Steve Bannon hiding? In October, his lawyer told the House Select Committee that he would not comply with its subpoena, because Trump had instructed him not to produce any documents or testimony “concerning privileged material.”
Trump pardoned Bannon after prosecutors pursued him with charges related to fraud stemming from his involvement in the “We Build The Wall” fundraising scheme. Despite their falling out, Trump pardoned Bannon after reconnecting with him, as he helped fan Trump’s conspiracy theories about the election.
A day before the riot, Bannon commented on his podcast “all hell is going to break loose tomorrow.” What did he know, and when did he know it?
A federal grand jury indicted Bannon on contempt of Congress charges that stemmed from his refusal to comply with a subpoena from lawmakers investigating Jan. 6. He surrendered to federal authorities this week, and was released without bail.
What is Mark Meadows, Trump’s White House chief of staff, hiding? He failed to appear last week for a deposition before the Select Committee.
The following Trump associates are subpoenaed in the riot probe: Jason Miller, a senior advisor to Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign; Michael Flynn, Trump’s onetime national security adviser; Angela McCallum, a national executive assistant to Trump’s campaign; William Stepien, Trump’s 2020 campaign manager; John Eastman, who reportedly advised Trump that state electors could be rejected, and Bernard Kerik, who reportedly participated in the Jan. 5 , meeting at the Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C.
Will they appear, or hide what they know?
Select Committee chairman Bennie Thompson said, “In the days before the Jan. 6 attack, the former President’s closest advisors drove a campaign of misinformation about the election and planned ways to stop the count of Electoral College votes. The Select Committee needs to know every detail about their efforts to overturn the election, including who they were talking to in the White House and in Congress, what connections they had with rallies that escalated into a riot, and who paid for it all.”
Democracy was imperiled Jan. 6, and Americans deserve to know what happened. But, uncooperative Republicans are making it hard for the truth to come out. What are they hiding?