Prachatai / Flickr Bob Goodlatte  16664067356...
Prachatai / Flickr

Republican Congressman Bob Goodlatte is not having the best day. His extra-harsh immigration bill has been the center of confusion and dissent on the House floor. And now it appears he may have screwed Republican plans to spice up their Friday by charging Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein with contempt of Congress. According to Politico, Goodlatte dispatched a subpoena to Rosenstein on March 22, but what the Republican House Judiciary Chair failed to do was … send one to Democrats. And House rules require that the Democratic leadership be sent a copy of a subpoena when it is issued.

Now top Democratic Judiciary committee member Jerrold Nadler has informed Goodlatte that he considers the subpoena sent to Rosenstein to be “defective.”

Nadler: Because you did not provide me with a copy of the subpoena that actually issued, the subpoena that you eventually issued would be unenforceable as a matter of law.

Republicans are sputtering. An aide to Goodlatte insists that they issued a “valid” subpoena to Rosenstein and that Democrats are just “blocking transparency.” Unfortunately for Republicans, whose plans to attack Rosenstein were so widely known that they were being discussed in open hearings, the House parliamentarian apparently agrees with Democrats: Goodlatte botched the paperwork.

Earlier this week, Paul Ryan promised “action on the floor of the House” if both the DOJ and FBI didn’t provide documents Trey Gowdy had demanded. Or a different set of documents demanded by Devin Nunes. Or another set of documents demanded by a quartet of Republican reps. This comes after both Rosensteain and FBI Director Christopher Wray have made multiple visits to the House, and turned over document after document—including documents that revealed the name of an FBI informant and FBI methodology in an ongoing investigation. None of those documents has provided Republicans with evidence that the FBI or DOJ has behaved improperly in the investigation of Trump’s connections to foreign agents, but it’s become clear that Republicans aren’t actually interested in anything turned up by their string of subpoenas. They’re simply trying to engineer a confrontation.

Which they may still have—rules or no rules. Because where America is going, we don’t have rules.

At a meeting last weekend, Ryan and the Republicans rampant met again with Rosenstein and Wray. Even though additional staff at the FBI has been moved to the sole task of processing the increasing stream of requests from House Republicans, and even though the documents Republicans are requesting directly threaten the integrity of the investigation, Ryan has insisted that they’re not coming fast enough. And even though Gowdy admitted that the inspector general report and everything he had learned suggested that the FBI had “acted properly,” and even though Republicans issued not one charge of contempt for the many witnesses who refused to speak before the House intelligence committee, they were prepared to make an exception for Rosenstein.

Now Goodlatte, Nunes and Gowdy are coming back to Paul Ryan to “regroup.” Because it seems their big show trial Friday may have been called—on account of forgetting the first thing about how the process is supposed to work. Whether they will go ahead with declaring Rosenstein in contempt, even though the subpoena sent to DOJ was improper, isn’t yet clear.

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.

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