Following news that Attorney General Jeff Sessions resigned at President Trump’s request Wednesday, the left side of the aisles on Capitol Hill have gone into meltdown reaction mode.
Because of Sessions’ departure and what that might mean for special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, some are calling this either a full-blown Constitutional Crisis™ or the beginning thereof.
.@realDonaldTrump’s firing of Jeff Sessions brings us one step closer to a constitutional crisis. Congress must act to ensure that Special Counsel Mueller can do his job without interference.
— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) November 7, 2018
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Jeff Sessions' resignation: "Protecting Mueller and his investigation is paramount. It would create a constitutional crisis if this were a prelude to ending or greatly limiting the Mueller investigation." https://t.co/DpnGEb1b0g pic.twitter.com/D2I2brI4Tq
— ABC News (@ABC) November 8, 2018
Cory Booker: "Sessions' firing at the hands of the president is an alarming development that brings us one step closer to a constitutional crisis."
"Trump made this decision based on his fear of being implicated by … Robert Mueller's investigation."https://t.co/mcO7vffAgm
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) November 8, 2018
You were the only Democrat to have voted to confirm Jeff Sessions. Are we approaching a constitutional crisis?
— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) November 8, 2018
Meanwhile, over on the House side, members of the incoming majority are sharpening their investigative teeth in preparation for the next session.
Looks like @realDonaldTrump really wants to change the topic away from the Democratic blue wave.
With the forced resignation of AG Jeff Sessions by @POTUS, the House of Representatives must do everything in our power to protect the integrity of the Special Counsel investigation. https://t.co/ehbrYSW3u0
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) November 7, 2018
— (((Rep. Nadler))) (@RepJerryNadler) November 7, 2018
Elijah Cummings, the incoming chairman of the House Oversight Committee, on Jeff Sessions: "Congress must now investigate the real reason for this termination, confirm that Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker is recused from all aspects of the Special Counsel's probe." pic.twitter.com/S7uy36GVb6
— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) November 7, 2018
Sure, the House has the power and the duty to oversee the actions of the executive branch. But one wonders what they expect to find by issuing subpoena after subpoena over a completely constitutional action.
When the “Constituitonal Crisis™” drumbeats start pounding, it’s usually around the idea that the president doesn’t have the power to fire the head of some “fourth branch” board, agency, or bureau (which he does).
But this is his own cabinet appointee we’re talking about. Just in case anyone either on or off Capitol Hill needs a refresher, the Constitution doesn’t mention the Department of Justice or the office of Attorney General or the deputies thereof. Those are all creations of statute (as is the existence of the special counsel’s job).
What the Constitution actually does, however, is vest executive power in the president of the United States and give him the authority with advice and consent of the Senate to “appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for.” Cabinet members are officers of the United States.
You know what a bigger constitutional crisis would be? Too many of our fellow citizens don’t seem understand how the Constitution and the separation of powers outlined therein actually work, and there are too many politicians and pundits waiting to pounce on that ignorance like a coiled spring.