Well, well, well. A leaked memo generated by some anonymous apparatchik working for the Republican House Caucus has been published on-line by Axios, and details the shrill, shrieking nightmare that Republicans anticipate should the Democrats flip the House in November.
See, if the Democrats control the House, then they’ll also control all those heretofore quiescent House oversight committees, the organs of government that are supposed to be supplying the legislative constitutional check on the executive. No more running interference for Trump on the House Intelligence Committee. No more smiling quietly to themselves and doing all sorts of nothing on the Ethics Committee. No more blissful ignorance of the Russian hacking threat on the Homeland Security Committee. On and on, across the whole spectrum of oversight committees, the obstruction and willful blindness of Trump’s spineless Republican enablers will come to a screeching halt, to be replaced by the activism and righteous zeal of a bunch of intensely curious Democrats who really, truly, ardently want to know what the Hell, and why.
OMG! God forefend! Whatever will become of the White Folk?
Tabulating hundreds of studiously ignored written requests for action and information, all the ones made fatalistically by minority members to the chairs of those committees over the past year and a half, the spreadsheet distills it all down to the many rich veins of corruption that the Democrats will likely want to mine, when their time comes. It’s quite the list:
- 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
- White House staff’s personal email use
- Cabinet secretary travel, office expenses, and other misused perks
- Discussion of classified information at Mar-a-Lago
- Jared Kushner’s ethics law compliance
- Dismissal of members of the EPA board of scientific counselors
- The travel ban
- Family separation policy
- Hurricane response in Puerto Rico
- Election security and hacking attempts
- White House security clearances
As they used to say on Python, oh what a giveaway. What this amounts to is a non-exhaustive laundry list of the manifold instances of dirty Trumpian malfeasance that the Republicans have been refusing to do anything about, utterly failing to live up to their constitutional responsibilities while gorging like maniacs on the glorious fruits of one party rule. It is, in all but name, a confession of profound failure and guilt.
An almost unbelievably incomplete confession, too, despite its length. Adam Schiff, the cool and cerebral ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, was just on MSNBC detailing how actually, that ain’t the half of it. What about Trump’s curious support for an embargoed Chinese technology company – has this got anything to do with his real estate dealings with Chinese investors? What about the strange policy of favouring Saudi Arabia’s harassment of tiny Qatar, a staunch US ally – has this anything to do with the reluctance of monied Qataris to bail out Jared Kushner’s real estate fiasco at 666 Fifth Avenue? What about the conduct of Congressional Republicans themselves, such as the scandalous way that Devon Nunes kept running scams to thwart the effort to get to the bottom of Trump’s collusion with the Russians – was there improper coordination with the White House? What about the obstruction of justice aspects of dangling pardons and stripping current and former government operatives of their security clearances if they dare offer criticism? This poor, villified FBI agent Peter Strzok – was he railroaded at the express direction of the Oval Office? It just goes on and on. As Bill Mahar once quipped, I could try to supply a complete list, but I’d have to stop in the middle to shave.
You’d never know it, watching the Republicans sitting on their hands and feigning abject helplessness, but the oversight powers of Congressional committees are formidable, and quite terrifying to anybody with dirty secrets the like of which might be fodder for a lengthy stint in the slam. They have the power of subpoena, that is, to compel testimony as well as the production of documents. They can issue citations for contempt of Congress, a prosecutable offence, if you try to do what the Republicans let cads like Bannon do, and simply decline to answer questions. Lying to them can itself land you in the clink. They can refer anything they unearth to Justice for further legal action. Properly motivated, they can really jam you up.
They can also turn the rest of Trump’s Presidency into an endless horror show of investigations and desperate rearguard defensive actions struggling hopelessly to prevent Congress from airing out every smelly little bit of dirty Republican laundry, all the livelong day, every day, until November, 2020. One White House staffer after another will be sitting there on camera, getting grilled. Cabinet members will get the third degree while they twitch sweatily and look ready to bolt like startled cockroaches under the bright lights. Just the detailed examination of Trump’s tax returns might well be enough to blow his regime to smithereens, and get all of his money laundering, tax evading, Russian Mob coddling business collaborators, including his horrible children, sent away for the next 9-15 to make little ones out of big ones at Leavenworth.
By the time they’re through, it may not matter whether Trump can be successfully impeached. He’ll still be thoroughly revealed for the lying, traitorous, profiteering, corruption-wallowing swine that he is, and all his messy illegal behaviour, both during his Presidency and before, will be exposed for all to see. In that case his base may never abandon him, but there won’t be a swing voter in any of the 50 states who doesn’t vomit at the thought of ticking the box for Trump in the next election, and 40% of the electorate can’t win you a second term.
It is therefore vital – vital – that the Democrats take the House in November. If the Republicans remain in charge, Trump will skate on everything he’s already done, and be set loose to do a whole lot more. The mind boggles. With nothing to stop them, the Republicans will grow fat on the carcass of the murdered Republic. It’s thus arguable that the coming mid-terms are the most important Congressional elections in history.
And here I am up in Canada, unable to cast even one lousy vote. All I can do is pray, and stone atheist though I am, I’ll be praying mightily, with the conviction borne of desperation. You never know, maybe there really is a Supreme Being out there somewhere, and maybe this time, just this once, He/She/It will feel like doing us a solid.
[Post-script, January 2020: I wrote this in those wonderful days when it seemed inconceivable that Trump could simply stonewall, defying the law and legal subpoenas, and get away with it. Ah, me.]