Is there any serious reason why former President Obama should not be subpoenaed to testify before the Senate committees investing those 39 “unmaskings” of retired Lt. Gen. Flynn’s name in classified intelligence documents?
Mr. Obama is no longer a sitting president. This fact eliminates any constitutional conflicts. Plus, we have already seen a sitting president, Bill Clinton, forced to submit to being deposed in a civil lawsuit against him. Congressional committee hearings are civil, not criminal, matters.
However, the underlying purpose will be to identify the person or persons who leaked the unmasking to The New York Times and The Washington Post; each leak is a felony. Mr. Obama would be within his rights to remain silent, which is the advice any lawyer would give him.
Sen. Lindsey Graham is wisely concerned with the precedent that would be set by subjecting a former president to questioning by a separate branch of the government. I believe he is worried it could become a common practice when a president leaves office and an opposing political party controls one or both of the chambers in Congress. Perhaps legislation should be passed, obviating each chamber’s relevant rules, to require reasonable or a higher level of cause to support the issuance of a subpoena for a former president. This may satisfy Mr. Graham’s legitimate concerns.
Exempting a former president from facing a congressional inquiry bluntly says some people really are above the law, which violates a fundamental principle of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
MAJ. JAMES M. DORN
U.S. Army Reserve (retired)
Chino Hills, Calif.
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