Budowich’s Lawsuit against the Select Committee: A Pattern Emerges

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Stop the Steal Rally

On Friday, Taylor Budowich (Trump spokesperson and one of the planners of the Stop the Steal Rally on Jan. 6) sued the select Congressional committee investigating the insurrection. Now that several of these witnesses have sued the committee (including Mark Meadows and John Eastman) we can see a pattern emerging.

First, the witness claims to have cooperated in good faith:

Then, after totally cooperating, the person is “ambushed” by a subpoena:

So either: 

  • The committee is totally unreasonable and unfair OR 
  • Said person isn’t really turning everything over, and in fact, is holding back key documents. 

Which could it be, hmmm? Let’s take a closer look for clues.

One clue that Budowich wasn’t truly cooperating and in fact thought he could hold back key documents, was that he argued that Congress isn’t entitled to see the particular documents they are demanding in the subpoenas. Like the others, he argued that he has a First Amendment right to hide the documents because the documents contain evidence of his political views and political associations.

His First Amendment argument goes roughly like this: If people know my political views as evidenced in my bank records, they will attack me for these views, which chills my First Amendment rights, so I have a First Amendment right to hide my bank records. It makes no sense.

In fact, the First Amendment allows you to say what you want and associate with whom you want, but it does not mean that people can’t criticize you for your words and associations. This First Amendment argument is particularly strange because this guy doesn’t exactly hide his political views. He tweeted this about the time he filed a lawsuit to protect people from discovering his political leanings:

He also says the committee shouldn’t get the documents they want because he already gave them everything they asked for:

Besides, he says his records indicate lawful behavior (and he said it so it must be true).

Plus, if everything in the bank records was legal and he already gave the committee everything responsive so they won’t learn anything new from these documents, why is he so twisted out of shape because the committee might see them? They’re bank records for goodness sake.

The committee is interested in $200,000 from an undisclosed source:

He can’t really expect anyone to believe that he has a First Amendment right to hide the bank records that (the committee believes) will reveal the source of that $200,000? Correction: If you believe the election was stolen and Donald Trump is the winner, you may believe this silly First Amendment argument.

I suspect they had a good reason not to take his word. Remember, they’ve interviewed more than 300 witnesses. These interviews are not public for a good reason. Nobody knows all of what the others are saying or what documents others have provided.

The total shock and horror these guys exhibit when they learn of the subpoena suggests that they are shocked that the committee knew which documents to go after. Nothing else really explains the language. Mark Meadows was “blindsided.”

Budowich also argued that the subpoena violates his Fourth Amendment rights:

(He didn’t mention the Fifth Amendment. I guess he’s not ready yet to go there. Usually, they claim First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendment violations.) What he wants is a declaration from the court that these subpoenas are invalid.

He also argues that the committee is not legitimate and it doesn’t serve a legitimate purpose so nobody has to comply with anything they demand. (So he’s been complying in good faith “over his objections” for months with an illegal committee that nobody has to comply with?)

The timing of these letters indicates that the bank records have already been furnished to Congress:

If it’s too late and Congress has gotten (or will get) these docs, what is the purpose of these lawsuits? I have a clue from my email inbox. The people who write me lovely emails informing me that I am a stupid liberal are making the same exact arguments in these lawsuits. In other words, the lawsuits are providing the talking points for right-wing media outlets. So we need to be aware of them.

If there was any doubt that this lawsuit wasn’t filed because he expects to win but because the idea is to seed right-wing talking points, here is the statement he put out at the same time he filed his lawsuit. His claim is that democracy is in danger, not because of the Jan. 6 insurrection, but by the power-grabbing select committee:

Why We Care About the Findings of the January 6 Select Committee:

Here’s why we should care about this committee. The committee wants to expose the truth. The committee wants to know and make public every detail leading to the insurrection.

If anything will persuade people not to vote for the current Republican Party, it should be the truth. Obviously we will never reach the crazies, but if 55% of the population votes Democratic, that’s an electoral landslide. The idea is to reach the people who can be swayed. While not a lot of them, there are enough of them to make a difference in elections.

Originally published in Teri Kanefield’s Blog here.

Photo by Tyler Merbler from USA – DSC09426-2, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=98692651

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Teri has written novels, short stories, nonfiction for both young readers and adults, and lots of legal briefs. She is currently working on a book on disinformation to be published by Macmillan Publishers. Her political commentary has appeared on the NBC Think Blog and CNN.com. Her articles and essays have appeared in publications as diverse as Education Week, Slate Magazine, and Scope Magazine. Her short fiction has appeared in the American Literary View, The Iowa Review, and others. For twelve years she maintained a private appellate law practice limited to representing indigents on appeal from adverse rulings. She believes with the ACLU that when the rights of society's most vulnerable members are denied, everybody's rights are imperiled. She also believe with John Updike that the purpose of literature is to expand our sympathies. Teri lives with her family on the beautiful central coast in California.

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