The arguments that DOJ advances to support its claim of absolute testimonial immunity for senior-level presidential aides transgress core constitutional truths (notwithstanding OLC’s persistent heralding of these and similar propositions). By contrast, textbook constitutional law readily reveals that, precisely because the Constitution bestows upon the Judiciary the power to demarcate the boundaries of lawful conduct by government officials, the federal courts have subject-matter jurisdiction to entertain subpoena enforcement disputes concerning legislative subpoenas that have been issued to Executive branch officials.
Luckily for this Court, an existing precedent that is on all fours with the instant matter (Miers) already systematically dismantles the edifice that DOJ appears to have erected over the years to enshrine the proposition that a President’s senior-level aides have absolute immunity with respect to legislative subpoenas that Congress issues in the course of its investigations; Miers does this by squarely refuting each of the threshold and merits arguments that DOJ seeks to advance in the instant case.
To make the point as plain as possible, it is clear to this Court for the reasons explained above that, with respect to senior-level presidential aides, absolute immunity from compelled congressional process simply does not exist. Indeed, absolute testimonial immunity for senior-level White House aides appears to be a fiction that has been fastidiously maintained over time through the force of sheer repetition in OLC opinions, and through accommodations that have permitted its proponents to avoid having the proposition tested in the crucible of litigation. And because the contention that a President’s top advisors cannot be subjected to compulsory congressional process simply has no basis in the law. … The invocation of the privilege by a testifying aide is an order of magnitude different than DOJ’s current claim that the President essentially owns the entirety of a senior-level aide’s testimony such that the White House can order the individual not to appear before Congress at all.