In a column published the day after the election, former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell warned his fellow Democrats to proceed cautiously after winning the House of Representatives. “Our most fervent supporters hope that we will use our newly found control to investigate almost everything that the Trump administration has done,” he wrote. “Though I understand what has fed this emotion, that would be a grievous mistake if investigations were all we did and we made no attempt to meet the challenges facing everyday Americans.”
But that advice likely will be ignored by a party that has no more use for relatively moderate, older, white men like Rendell. Despite election season slogans about protecting health care and migrant children, Democrats really only care about one thing: Retribution for Trump winning the White House.
Their base wants it, too. Exit polls showed a plurality of voters used their ballot to protest President Trump; two-thirds of voters who supported a Democratic House candidate said they want Congress to begin impeachment proceedings and remove Trump from office, an idea supported by key Democratic lawmakers poised to take over powerful committees. Revenge-seeking henchmen in the 116th Congress will be more interested in serving subpoenas than safeguarding pre-existing conditions. (The joke’s on you, my fellow suburban moms who voted for Democrats because you think they really care about your family’s health care coverage. LOL.)
It will be all investigations, all the time—a two-year grudge match between Congress and the Trump Administration. The games already have begun.
Subpoenas As Far As the Eye Can See
From subpoenaing Trump’s tax returns to probing former and current cabinet officials, Democrats and the media are salivating over all the damaging headlines they think they can generate just as the 2020 presidential race gets underway. The House Oversight Committee alone has at least 60 subpoenas ready to go when Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) takes over.
Like my college political science professor who ended every lecture with a crazy rant about the Vietnam war, our new Democratic overlords will return to shrieking, “Russia! Russia! Russia!” in every MSNBC interview. Although the rest of normal America has moved beyond this ludicrous and unproven ruse, partisan soldiers like incoming House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) is still in Saigon, er . . . Moscow, hunting for the lost tape of Trump peeing on a prostitute or evidence that George Papadopoulos convinced Vladimir Putin to hand over Hillary’s deleted emails.
Schiff is threatening to reopen the committee’s investigation into Trump-Russia election collusion, which wrapped up earlier this year. (The current committee chairman, Rep. Devin Nunes, issued a lengthy report in April that concluded there was no treasonous scheme between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.)
The Los Angeles-area lawmaker said Wednesday that he will “look at the work that we were able to do, we’re going to look at the work that the GOP obstructed on our committee. We’ll have to see what [Special Counsel] Bob Mueller has been able to do and . . . either via indictment or via report, and that will also guide what we intend to do in our committee.” Schiff sent a letter to acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker on Wednesday, indicating his committee would look into the “departure” of his predecessor, Jeff Sessions: He will be joined in that effort by his Senate counterparts.
The new chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), is preparing to investigate the July 2018 summit in Helsinki between Trump and the Russian president. “We still don’t know what happened in Helsinki between Trump and Putin,” Engel told the Washington Post. “It’s ludicrous that months later, we still don’t know. I want to find out.” Engel sponsored a bill in September that would have required the State Department to turn over all the documents related to the “secretive one-on-one meeting” between the two leaders.
Senate Democrats will do their part in making sure Mueller continues his yet-to-be-fruitful investigation into Trump-Russia election collusion. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y) called it “paramount” that the administration protect the special counsel; Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) will seek a vote next week on a bill that would strip the executive branch’s authority to fire Mueller and provide a path of legal recourse if he is.
Impeachment on the Table
But Russia isn’t the only item on the target list. Some congressional leaders think it would be a swell idea for the country to relive the Brett Kavanaugh debacle.
In what could be one of the best “overheard-on-the-Acela” reports of all time, The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway listened in on conversations between Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and unknown callers about his plans after he takes the gavel of the House Judiciary Committee in a few months. Not only will his committee investigate and move to impeach Trump, Nadler also will pursue impeachment charges against Kavanaugh for allegedly lying to Congress during his September 27 testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The 12-term congressman also discussed going after the FBI for doing a “half-ass job” on the investigation into the Supreme Court nominee.
The president is taking none of this lying down. On Wednesday, he fired back at threats of pending investigations by House Democrats: “Two can play that game!” he tweeted. Trump repeated his stance during a press conference later that day. “Like almost from the time I announced I was gonna run, they’ve been giving us this investigation fatigue,” the president told a reporter. “They can play that game, but we can play it better because we have a thing called the United States Senate. And a lot of questionable things were done between leaks of classified information and many other elements that should not have taken place.”
Of course Trump was referring to how the Obama Administration weaponized the nation’s law enforcement and intelligence apparatus to spy on his presidential campaign and sabotage his incoming presidency. Trump agreed months ago to declassify key documents that will further expose this scandal but held off until after the midterms election. He suggested on Wednesday he might soon make a move on this long-awaited request.
Burying the so-called FISAgate scandal is a major reason why Democrats plan to deluge the administration with letters and subpoenas. As the clock ticks down on Republican-led investigations into a number of key figures involved in the scandal; the release of a final report and possible last-ditch indictments by the Special Counsel’s office; the unknown actions by a Trump-friendly acting Attorney General, and a looming Justice Department inspector general’s report into FISA abuse at Obama’s FBI, it’s now a race to see who strikes first.
And a divided American public will be treated to another two years of political warfare. This is what they voted for on November 6; let’s see how it works out for them.
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