SO! What Should Democrats Investigate First????
Now that Democrats have taken over the House of Representatives -- or will, come January -- they'll be able to remind the Trump administration that "oversight" isn't just a noun wedged between "inexcusable" and "by compliant Republicans." That's going to be a bit of a change from the first two years of this "presidency," when House committees mostly did everything they could to help Trump cover up and deflect attention from his shady behavior, not to mention taking a wrecking ball to consumer protections and regulations on industry. Now that there'll be a whole new crop of committee chairs with subpoena power, let's look at the wish list for the top investigations they should get on right away.
Donald Trump was very certain he'd been completely cleared by the House Intelligence Committee's investigation of contacts between his campaign and Russia, because after all, the investigation didn't bother looking too closely. Now that Adam Schiff will be chairing the committee, expect a closer look, including subpoenas of all those jerks who refused to answer questions the first time around. The main job of investigating Trump-Russia remains Robert Mueller's, of course, but the House will finally be digging into stuff that Devin Nunes for some reason had no interest in examining.
While they're at it, Dems on both Intel and Foreign Affairs will probably want to look at what actually went on during Trump's Helsinki meeting with Putin -- at the very least, maybe we can finally find out whether anyone in Trump's administration was ever briefed on what they talked about.
Other foreign stuff up for investigation? Schiff wants to look at the North Korea "nuclear deal," like maybe seeing if there even is such a thing. And yes, how about a close look at whether our great friends the Saudis may have told Trump what to think about the murder of Jamal Khashoggi?
Hey, how about looking into that Trump Tower computer that kept talking to that Russian bank, too? Seems like a loose end somebody should tie up.
Donald Trump's Taxes Remain Nobody's Business, OK?
Get ready for a demand for Trump to turn over his tax returns, which is a power Congress has but decided not to bother with the past two years. Dems are ready to be a bit more oversighty this time around, so get ready for Trump to get even pissier and to insist it's a "disgrace" even more than ever.
Richard E. Neal (D-Mass.), the presumptive Ways and Means Committee chairman, has said he intends to obtain them once in power, using a 1924 law that gives heads of the congressional tax-writing committees the right to request any person's tax returns. The panel could then make them public with a simple majority vote.
Trump and other conservatives have suggested that the White House might fight any effort by Democrats to obtain the tax returns, setting up a possible constitutional challenge that tests a nearly 94-year-old law.
Expect Trump to be an asshole about that. In his insane presser this morning, he insisted, for the first time in quite a while, that he can't possibly show anyone his taxes, because would you believe they're STILL being audited?
Other inquiries into Trump's sleazy business operations are likely to come from the presumptive chair of the House Financial Services Committee, Maxine Waters.
Waters has requested — and as the committee head could subpoena — records that could dislodge closely held details of Deutsche Bank's relationship with the Trump Organization.
The German bank lent Trump more than $400 million during a decade-long real estate buying spree that began in 2005, largely through its private wealth management office, not the commercial banking division that typically handles real estate.
Maybe Government Agencies Should Do Their Jobs?
The committees with oversight power for cabinet agencies are likely to be very, very busy, too, insisting the EPA should at least occasionally protect the environment, that our immigration laws can be enforced without throwing children in cages, and that thousands of US citizens shouldn't be poisoned by lead or left to die after a hurricane, even if they're on an island surrounded by big water:
[Incoming House Oversight Committee] chairman Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) already plans to look into the "zero tolerance" policy that caused the detention of thousands of migrant children who were separated from their families while trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border, and the administration's intention to include a citizenship question on the 2020 Census.
The panel is also planning a broad investigation of the White House's security clearance process, after Trump's son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner and former staff secretary Rob Porter were revealed to be working without full clearances.
The panel wants to balance those inquiries with renewed attention to the administration's widely criticized response to Puerto Rico in the aftermath Hurricane Maria, and the continuing water crisis in Flint, Mich.
Already, some Democrats are fretting that if the House does too much investigating, that could backfire by making Trump look like he's being victimized, the poor dear. That's a concern which seems never to have occurred to the Republicans who investigated Benghazi again and again, although of course that was different, because as we all know, Hillary Clinton was a very untrustworthy person.
In any case, Donald Trump has the proper relationship between the branches of government all worked out. He explained it's really very simple. If Democrats investigate him, he'll just investigate them harder, and also maybe he won't let any legislation pass for the rest of his term:
Here's something novel: Trump says he won't work with House Dems on legislation unless they halt plans to investiga… https://t.co/QCTezlUJif— Susan Glasser (@Susan Glasser)1541610875.0
Gosh, he's a smart cookie. He'll really teach them!
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