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Donald Trump has ordered officials to ignore impeachment subpoenas. (Photo: Getty)

Top Trump officials who have refused subpoenas to testify in impeachment hearings should face a long-standing process as old as the nation itself. They should be held in contempt of Congress and forwarded to a grand jury for prosecution.

Donald Trump has repeatedly ordered officials not to honor subpoenas under a blanket assertion of executive privilege, which has already been rejected by courts.

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As of this month, however, four White House officials have followed Trump’s directive and refused to comply with congressional subpoenas over the Ukraine scandal.

Declaring them in contempt is the next logical step, and it should be taken immediately.

The power has been implied since the 1790s. The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed that power in an 1821 ruling in Anderson v. Dunn.

The court held that Congress’s power to hold someone in contempt was essential to ensure that Congress was “… not exposed to every indignity and interruption that rudeness, caprice, or even conspiracy, may mediate against it.”

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Only the president is exempt from contempt proceedings by executive privilege, not his cabinet members or other administration officials, according to the Office of Legal Counsel.

Congress has used its contempt powers circumspectly over the years. The last time Congress arrested and detained a witness was in 1935.

This story first appeared in the government and politics site Money & Power. Click here to read the full story.