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  • AQA Component The executive branch of government: President

  • Edexcel Component 3A: 3.3.1: Relationship between the presidency and Congress

Background: what you need to know 

The article discusses the attempt by Democrats in the US House of Representatives to gain access to documents related to the Trump presidency, as part of their investigation into the storming of the Capitol by a mob on 6 January. Donald Trump has mounted a legal challenge, arguing that these records are off-limits. This is an important story to follow as it will provide an insight into just how effective Congress is in holding the executive branch to account.

The article is also useful evidence of the polarisation of US politics, as it notes that very few Republicans are taking part in the inquiry. It refers to two other important issues for the study of the presidency — the impeachment process and the presidential power to pardon close associates facing legal charges

Click to read the articles below and then answer the questions:

Trump sues to prevent release of presidential records related to Capitol riot

Question in the style of AQA Politics Paper 2

  • Explain and analyse three ways in Congress can hold the US President to account. [9 marks]

Question in the style of Edexcel Politics Paper 3a

  • Evaluate the view that Congress has limited ability to check the power of the US Presidency.

    You must consider this view and the alternative to this view in a balanced way. (30)

    TIP: The work of Congressional committees, as discussed in this article, is an important area to know about. However, bear in mind that this is not a typical example, as in this case the House committee is investigating an ex-President, not a sitting one. You need to look at more than one presidency and at other ways in which Congress may seek to check presidential power — for example by withholding funding, blocking legislation and — in exceptional circumstances — using the power of impeachment.

Graham Goodlad, St John’s College

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