Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), one of the key members of the progressive Congressional “squad,” reiterated a claim Sunday that Democrats are quietly considering jailing allies of President Donald Trump if they do not comply with the House’s impeachment inquiry.
Tlaib told local Detroit news program, Deadline Detroit, that Democrats, who have issued a number of subpoenas to Trump friends, family members, and administration officials, have discussed detaining those who don’t show up to testify, the Hill reports.
“There have been actual serious conversations about what the logistics would look like … if we did have to force someone through a court order to come before the Congressional committee,” she said.
Congress typically negotiates with potential witnesses who receive subpoenas but have concerns about testifying. Jailing those who refuse to comply with a demand for testimony would be a novel approach, which Tlaib acknowledged: “This is pretty uncharted territory for many of us and even for Congress.”
This isn’t the first time Tlaib has talked about jailing ideological opponents, particularly those allied with the president, who could have information as to whether Trump discussed a deal with Ukrainian officials, returning cancelled foreign aid if Ukrainian prosecutors pursued Hunter Biden, son of former Vice President Joe Biden, and investigated an energy corporation that placed Hunter Biden on its board.
Tlaib gleefully announced Democrats’ plans to jail impeachment inquiry witnesses at a town hall meeting in metropolitan Detroit last week. The Daily Wire’s Molly Prince reported on the incident last Tuesday.
“Let me tell you, this is pretty — and this is the last caucus conversation we had. Do you know this is really unprecedented? This is the worst time we’ve ever had a situation like this,” Tlaib said then. “So they’re trying to figure out — no joke — they’re trying to figure out, ‘Well, is it the D.C. police that goes and gets them?’ No, no.”
“What are we hoping? I mean, I’m not in those kinds of conversations, but I’m asking, like, you know, what happens? And they’re like, ‘Well, Rashida, we’re trying to figure it out ourselves because this is uncharted territory,’” she continued. “No, I’m telling you that they’re trying to be like, ‘Well, where are we going to put them? Where are we going to hold them?’ No, I mean those are the kinds of things they’re trying to tread carefully.”
Other Democrats, aside from Tlaib, have expressed interest in jailing non-compliant witnesses. Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA) told CNN on Wednesday that he would like the House Sergent-at-Arms to “march” them to the “little jail” they have in the Capitol if they refuse to honor their subpoenas.
So far, at least two White House officials, Attorney General William Barr and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, have refused Congressional orders to testify and House Democrats have voted to hold both in contempt as a result. The House does have the option of jailing those who defy subpoenas but has historically avoided such a display. In this case, as in cases before, the visual of escorting administration officials to jail probably would not benefit the jailing party.
Luckily for Barr, Ross, and the rest of the White House staff — all of whom have been instructed not to respond to the impeachment inquiry — Tlaib isn’t among the legislators responsible for handling their testimony.