Professor Charles Tiefer testified July 11 before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee about how the panel could coordinate its inquiries into Russian hacking during the 2016 presidential campaign with the simultaneous investigation being conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller.
It was the third time this summer that Tiefer testified on Capitol Hill about the importance of congressional investigations and the history of simultaneous inquiries by Congress and independent prosecutors.
Tiefer served as special deputy chief counsel of the House Iran-Contra committee in the 1980s.
Tiefer, a regular contributor to Forbes, published another article a few days later, upon the announcement that Ty Cobb had been hired as a special counsel to direct the Trump administration’s response to the Russia investigations.
Tiefer’s first question: Who’s paying Cobb’s legal fees?
In the event that Trump pays them, Tiefer had another question: “[I]f [Cobb] is Trump’s private lawyer, then why will he have the access and authority of a public, official, executive actor?”
Asked Tiefer: “Is Cobb now the official guardian of the all-important executive privilege and able to use it manipulatively to delay and obstruct the Russia investigations?
“Is he allowed to play offense as well as defense? For example, if he wants a document, can he call up House Intelligence Chair [Devin] Nunes and have it subpoenaed?”
On another topic: Last week Tiefer was quoted in a Washington Post story detailing accusations by a watchdog group that Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt had misused federal funds to lobby against the Paris climate agreement. Federal employees are prohibited from lobbying members of the public to support or oppose legislation before Congress.
“Tiefer said Pruitt, as EPA administrator, is continuing to act like a national campaigner against Obama-era regulations,” much as Pruitt did as Oklahoma attorney general, despite the constraints placed on him now as a federal employee, the Post reported.
Saying he’d seen news reports of Pruitt railing against the Paris climate accord, Tiefer said: “I wasn’t sure if he was speaking for himself or the EPA. I was baffled and I’m a law professor.”