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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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