Johnathan Swann reports that congressional Republicans are terrified. What are they scared of? That if the the Democrats take the House, they will exercise oversight over the Trump administration and Trump’s conflicts of interest.
Privately, [congressional Republicans] are scrambling to prepare for the worst. This document, which catalogs requests Democrats have already made, is part of that effort.
It has churned Republican stomachs. Here are some of the probes it predicts:
- President Trump’s tax returns
- Trump family businesses — and whether they comply with the Constitution’s emoluments clause, including the Chinese trademark grant to the Trump Organization
- Trump’s dealings with Russia, including the president’s preparation for his meeting with Vladimir Putin
- The payment to Stephanie Clifford — a.k.a. Stormy Daniels
- James Comey’s firing
- Trump’s firing of U.S. attorneys
- Trump’s proposed transgender ban for the military
- Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s business dealings
The list goes on for a while. Reading it drives home the current breakdown of the American political systems. Most of this list involves matters related to basic congressional oversight, such as evidence of potential corruption or self-dealing, possible obstruction of justice, and decisions made without anything resembling an careful policy process. The Republican failure to take these issues seriously amounts to a complete abdication of a key “check and balance” function of the legislative branch; in effect, it extends the imperial character of the presidency.
The other striking aspect of the list is what it underscores about the Republican leadership. Republicans aren’t failing to engage in basic oversight because they want to avoid expensive fishing expeditions. These are the same people who conducted multiple investigations of alleged Obama and Clinton malfeasance related to the Benghazi attacks. It’s because they know Trump is a crook and that his administration is plagued by unethical behavior. They know that if they hold hearings, they’ll almost certainly uncover wrongdoing.