Thursday, November 8, 2018

The House will now do its investigatory job even while Trump threatens a 'war-like' response

Under control of the GOPlins, the House of Representatives has spun its wheels in the Trumpian muck for two years. It’s not too much to say that leaders of the majority in the House have interfered with the investigation of the Russian interference with the 2016 election. As of Tuesday (Nov. 6, 2018), all that changed. Now with the Democrats in the majority (1) we can hope to see Trump’s tax returns and (2) a renewal of the House’s investigation of the connections between Trump, his campaign, and the Russians is assured.

However: At the New York Times, Peter Baker and Michael Shear report that Trump Vows ‘Warlike Posture’ if Democrats Investigate Him. President Trump suggested that he would be willing to work with Democrats, but said that if the Democratic-controlled House tried to investigate him, he would retaliate.

President Trump threatened on Wednesday to adopt a “warlike posture” against Democrats if they use their newly won control of the House to investigate his financial and political dealings, drawing a line at the start of a new era of divided government.

The president began a postelection news conference with an offer to work across party lines, but his conciliatory tone quickly turned contentious. And barely an hour later, he announced the firing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions in defiance of Democrats who saw an effort to impede the Russia investigation.

House Democrats also made the traditional nod to bipartisanship after their victory in Tuesday’s midterm elections even as they emphasized that they would scrutinize everything from Mr. Trump’s taxes to his campaign’s ties to Russia in 2016. But after Mr. Sessions was fired, the incoming chairman of the House Judiciary Committee said the decision would be investigated once Democrats took over in January.

The instant exchange of fire indicated that there may be no lull in the conflict that has cleaved Washington during the Trump era, and if anything, it may escalate beyond what the last two years have brought. Once in control of all the levers of power in the capital, the president and his party now face the prospect of an opposition House armed with subpoena power and stocked by Democrats who won office on the promise of imposing a check on him.

That’s what supposed to happen - Congress is supposed to act to check on the executive branch. But if Congress does its job, Trump all but threatens “war.” Here’s a preview of the years to come in an extension of his war on the press.

Any talk of lowering the temperature after a harsh campaign seemed to dissipate as the president angrily scolded reporters whose questions or behavior he did not like. By the end of the day, the White House suspended the credentials of Jim Acosta of CNN, a move that other presidents did not take even during times of great tension with the news media.

At his news conference, Mr. Trump seemed to be trying to adjust to the new reality in Washington. “I would like to see bipartisanship. I’d like to see unity,” he said. But he said he would not tolerate investigations and would use allies in the Senate to open inquiries against Democrats in response: “If that happens, then we’re going to do the same thing, and government comes to a halt. And I would blame them.”

So Trump will not “tolerate” Congress doing its job, threatening gridlock.

Here is my take on this. The Dems must avoid anything that smacks of impeachment. The GOP, now the party of Tump, still controls the Senate so impeachment might be voted by the House but will be DOA in the Senate. Instead, the House Dems can acquire the President’s tax records. But, according to this piece in Politico (Why Democrats can get Trump’s tax returns now) … the maneuver doesn’t come without some political risks for Democrats. It’s likely to be a long drawn-out process.

Also likely is the renewed investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election. NPR reports that Rep. Adam Schiff Weighs In On What’s Ahead For House Intelligence Committee. Here are excerpts.

…. I think it’s going to be enormously important that the committee protect the investigation of Bob Mueller instead of attack it. So that will be quite a sea change for our committee.

… we’re also going to want to restore the relationship between our committee and the intelligence community and law enforcement that was so badly damaged by the publication of the Nunes memorandum. And we’re going to have to also work to restore comity among the committee. We don’t intend to run the committee the way that the last chairman did.

… between these calls between these two sons, Don Jr. and Emin Agalarov, there’s a third call sandwiched between them from a blocked number. Now, we know the president used a blocked phone during the campaign. And so naturally, we sought to subpoena the phone records to determine, did the president speak with his son in between these calls, in which the president was made aware of or gave approval to this meeting? That’s obviously pivotal in terms of the president’s involvement in any potential collusion or conspiracy to seek Russian help - illegal Russian help during the campaign.

But we’ve continued to do the investigative work. Obviously, it’s been hampered by the lack of any subpoena power. But one issue in particular concerns me that we were not allowed to pursue and the Senate has not been allowed to pursue. That is the issue of whether the Russians were laundering money through the Trump Organization. And this is leverage that they possess over the president of the United States.

NPR: This prompts me to ask whether the president’s tax returns would be of interest, and is that something you could subpoena?

SCHIFF: You know, it is something that we could subpoena. Although, frankly, I think that is more in the jurisdiction of the Ways and Means Committee that has a statutory mechanism to obtain tax returns. So I would expect that would be the committee that would take up that issue, certainly first.

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