Press "Enter" to skip to content

Congress and the White House in a Tug-of-War

Washington, DC —(Map)

In recent weeks, Congress has requested a lot of information from people connected to the White House. The White House has refused. The conflict could test the US constitution and wind up in the US courts.

The constitution guides the way the US government works. It divides the government into three parts, each with the power to keep the other parts under control. 

Separation of Powers
The US constitution divides the government into three different parts, each with the power to keep the other part under control.
(Source: By Viva La France! Support Our Revolution!, via Wikimedia Commons.)

The constitution says Congress  makes laws, decides how money is spent, and makes sure the president follows the law. The president is supposed to carry out the laws. The courts decide if Congress and the president are following the constitution.

So What’s the Problem?

Robert Mueller spent almost two years looking into whether Mr. Trump and the people who worked with him broke the law during the 2016 election for president.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller
Robert Mueller spent almost two years looking into whether Mr. Trump and the people who worked with him broke the law during the 2016 election for president.
(Source: Medill DC, via Flickr.com.)

Mr. Mueller gave his report to Attorney General William Barr. Mr. Barr was chosen by Mr. Trump, but as the country’s top lawyer, he’s supposed to work for the American people.

Mr. Barr released a letter which he said gave the main idea of the Mueller report – that Mr. Trump hadn’t broken any laws. Later, Mr. Barr released the report, but with about 10% of it blacked out. Mr. Barr said those parts had to stay secret.

Thumbnails of pages of the Mueller report with redactions.
When Mr. Barr finally released the report, about 10% of it was blacked out. Mr. Barr said those parts had to stay secret. Congress is demanding to see the whole report.
(Source: NewsForKids.net [CC BY-SA 4.0].)

The actual report seemed very different from Mr. Barr’s letter. Even Mr. Mueller complained that Mr. Barr didn’t describe the report correctly. Mr. Mueller’s report didn’t clear Mr. Trump, but also didn’t charge him with a crime.

Congress asked Mr. Barr to come explain his thinking. Mr. Barr spoke with the Senate,  but he didn’t talk to the House of Representatives.  The House is controlled by Democrats, a political party  that competes against Mr. Trump and his Republicans.

Attorney General William P. Barr.
As attorney general, Mr. Barr is in charge of the Department of Justice. The House may soon vote on holding Mr. Barr in “contempt of Congress”. That would mean Mr. Barr broke the law by stopping Congress from doing its work.
(Source: The United States Department of Justice, via Wikimedia Commons.)

Democrats in the House asked to see the full Mueller report. Mr. Barr refused. Because of this, the House may soon vote on holding Mr. Barr in “contempt of Congress”. That would mean Mr. Barr broke the law by stopping Congress from doing its work.

The White House suddenly said the Mueller report was protected by “executive privilege”. This special rule allows a president to keep some secrets about how decisions are made. It’s hard to understand how the whole Mueller report could be secret, since most of it’s already public.

President Donald J. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence return to the Oval Office along the West Wing Colonnade Friday May 10, 2019 at the White House.
The White House suddenly said the Mueller report was protected by “executive privilege”. This special rule allows a president to keep some secrets about how decisions are made. It’s hard to understand how the whole Mueller report could be secret, since most of it’s already public.
(Source: The White House, via Wikimedia Commons.)

The questions around Mr. Mueller’s report have made many people wonder if Mr. Trump has broken the law. Congress is checking into the president’s actions in at least six different ways. Most of the questions have to do with how Mr. Trump got and used money.

US Capitol building
Congress is checking into the president’s actions in at least six different ways. Most of the questions have to do with how Mr. Trump got and used money. If Congress believes Mr. Trump is guilty of a crime, it can “impeach” him.
(Source: Ed Brown, via Wikimedia Commons .)

If Congress believes Mr. Trump is guilty of a crime, it can “impeach” him. That could result in putting Mr. Trump on trial in the Senate. Though some people have called for impeaching Mr. Trump, many Democratic leaders think it’s too early to decide about that.

Even if Mr. Barr is found in contempt of Congress or Mr. Trump is impeached, it will take a long time to settle the problems. By then, the 2020 election for president might already be happening.

Washington, DC


View Larger Map
Share:

Settings

Most news on NewsForKids.net is appropriate for all ages. When there is news that may not be suitable for all ages, we try to tag it. You can use the setting below to control whether content tagged in this manner is shown.