President Donald Trump went on the offensive against Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib, calling her a “despicable human being” in a Sunday morning tweet after she revealed that Democrats have discussed detaining White House allies who refuse to comply with congressional subpoenas. “If they were to detain someone, where would they go and have them detained so that they can comply with the subpoenas?” Tlaib said in an interview with Deadline Detroit.
“There have been actual serious conversations about what the logistics would look like,” Tlaib added. “If we did have to force someone through a court order to come before the Congressional committee. This is pretty uncharted territory for many of us and even for Congress.”
On Sunday morning, Trump retweeted Dan Scavino, the White Hosue social media director, who linked to a story about Tlaib’s statement, writing: “Sounds about right. COUP!” Trump has often attacked members of the so-called “squad” of progressive congresswomen that includes Tlaib and Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, and Ilhan Omar.
Tlaib is not the first lawmaker to suggest the possibility of detaining those who refuse to cooperate with congressional impeachment inquiries. Rep. John Garamendi told CNN earlier in the week that it was time for Congress to use its power to force noncompliant officials to testify. “I think it’s time to call in the sergeant-at-arms and march them off to our little jail, which we do happen to have,” Garamendi said. “Let them sit there and cool off for a while.”
On Tuesday afternoon, the White House sent an eight-page letter to the House of Representatives saying it would not cooperate with the impeachment inquiry. “Never before in our history has the House of Representatives—under the control of either political party—taken the American people down the dangerous path you seem determined to pursue,” reads the letter signed by White House counsel Pat Cipollone.
Even though many like to mention the idea that there is a small jail in the Capitol, it’s actually a myth. Roll Call looked into the issue recently. “I went to the Architect of the Capitol and found out where the old Capitol jail was located. There was at one time a jail here in the Capitol where the Congress could imprison citizens who refused to comply with its subpoenas,” longtime Senate counsel Chuck Ludlam said in an interview conducted by the Senate Historical Office’s oral history project. The U.S. Capitol website details that “there is no evidence in the records of the Architect of the Capitol of any designated ‘guard room’ or ‘detention area’ in the Capitol” since the late 1800s. Instead, “several rooms in the United States Capitol have been used at various times for the detention of offenders,” notes the website.
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