Why Congress Can’t Rein in Trump

House Democrats might as well save everyone’s time and declare the entire Trump administration in contempt of Congress.The White House has repeatedly shown nothing but disdain for a fundamental principle of US democracy — the checks and balances of lawmaker oversight — in a string of escalating showdowns.

On Monday alone, a Democratic-led House committee scheduled a vote on holding Attorney General William Barr in contempt over his refusal to send Congress the un-redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report. Later, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin declined a request to hand over Trump’s tax returns in accordance with a little used provision of the law governing the IRS. House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal said he would seek legal advice, but a court battle is inevitable. It would not be a surprise if Mnuchin also eventually faces a contempt charge.

House panel sets Wednesday vote to hold Barr in contempt after DOJ doesn't turn over Mueller report

Democrats may also vote to hold Trump’s former White House counsel Don McGahn in contempt of Congress after the White House told him to refuse a subpoena for documents from the House Judiciary Committee. Current White House counsel Pat Cipollone wrote to Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler Tuesday directing the committee to request the documents from the White House, and not McGahn, arguing that the executive branch was the appropriate legal custodian of the material.

Meanwhile, Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen went to prison, in part for a crime in which the President was implicated. And a group of 450 bipartisan former Justice Department officials declared that Trump would already have faced “multiple felony charges for obstruction” had he not been President.

Trump is also stepping up pressure on Barr to stop Mueller appearing before Congress after halting testimony from several other officials and launching personal lawsuits to block subpoenas demanding the turnover of his financial records.

In the long run, the confrontation between the White House and Capitol Hill Democrats threatens to further tilt the balance of power in Washington from the legislature to the executive and an increasingly unrestrained President.”We cannot allow this bad president to set bad precedent,” said Democratic Rep. Lloyd Doggett of Texas.”If Trump once again faces only Republican silence and Democratic timidity, he will continue to erode our democracy by assuming more and more power.”

Battling Congress is on brand move for Trump

Mnuchin refuses to turn over Trump taxes to House Democrats

But Trump has never shown much concern for the health of America’s constitutional infrastructure.

And this approach is a sound political strategy for the President, one he can leverage in the run-up to the 2020 election to accuse Democrats of unfairly persecuting him.

Waging permanent political war and defying restraints fits Trump’s barnstorming character and gels with his key political image as a disruptor of traditional structures and elites.

By refusing Congress’ demands for testimony, witnesses and documentation, the White House will almost inevitably send the battle to the courts.

That means it could take months or even years for judges, at various levels of the judicial pyramid, to decide cases — a scenario that suits Trump perfectly well.

Even if he loses some of the multiple cases, judgments may come down too late to allow Democrats to effectively exercise their House majority and may get lost in the tumult ahead of 2020.

Trump’s defiance is providing a rallying point for some Republicans, who are seizing on some reasonable arguments that can be marshaled to refute the Democratic strategy.

Some analysts argue that Barr would be breaking the law by handing over evidence from the Mueller probe that includes grand jury testimony or intelligence material. The Justice Department also pointed out Monday that top Democrats had yet to read a less-redacted version of the report that has been available in a secure location in Congress.

New talks between Justice Department officials and the House Judiciary Committee are scheduled for Tuesday to try to head off a contempt vote in the committee.

Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Monday that although Trump should have released his tax returns, Congress should not compel him to do so.”Ways and Means did not provide a good reason for it,” Kinzinger said, referring to the Democratic argument that there was a legislative purpose to seeing Trump’s financial records. “The reason they want President Trump’s tax return is to go through it and further embarrass him.”

For an administration that cared about its reputation for transparency, contempt citations for key Cabinet officials would be damaging — even though they are largely symbolic.

The Obama administration managed just fine with Attorney General Eric Holder, held in contempt by Congress over the Fast and Furious controversy. And Trump has already proven his almost mystical ability to evade consequences of scandal, at least with the base of committed supporters on whom he has build his political edifice.

It appears that while Washington experts warn about eroding the rule of law and constitutional constraints, the impact of such an institutional remodeling is not felt by many voters who are preoccupied with less lofty concerns like keeping their jobs and decent health care.

Any attempt by House Democrats to take things a step further and impeach a Cabinet officer such as Barr would be futile, since Republicans in the Senate would never vote to convict him.

In effect, the barrier thrown up against congressional oversight is a bet that Democrats will not use their ultimate sanction — impeachment proceedings against the President himself — fearing the political consequences.House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has repeatedly told her troops that a big election win in 2020 is the best way to deal with Trump — and to stop him contesting the election.

Contempt for Congress is in the administration’s DNA

Trump warns presidency is being stolen amid Mueller angst

Contempt for Congress’ institutional role is not new for the Trump administration — it has been a constant theme — even when Republicans had a monopoly on power on Capitol Hill.

Trump frequently castigated former House Speaker Paul Ryan, despite his unwillingness to act as a check on presidential power, for not being sufficiently supportive.

He has refused bipartisan Senate demands to report on whether the Saudi government was responsible for the brutal killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi last year.

Last month, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Congress was not “smart enough” to understand the President’s tax returns.Trump has failed to seek Senate confirmation for temporary replacements for departed Cabinet secretaries, telling reporters the practice enhances his own power. In the most striking example of presidential muscle, Trump performed an end-run around Congress with a national emergency declaration to reprogram money for his border wall.

Many constitutional experts saw the move as a threat to the bedrock principle that Congress, not the President, enjoys the power of the purse.

Several of Trump’s Cabinet members have made their personal disdain for congressional oversight obvious.

Former acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker sparked audible gasps in February when he broke protocol to tell the House Judiciary chairman his time for questions had expired.And Mnuchin was involved in a bad-tempered spat with California Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters who told him to stop telling her how to run her committee after he told her to “take the gavel and bang it.”

Trump warns presidency is being stolen amid Mueller angstContempt for Congress’ institutional role is not new for the Trump administration — it has been a constant theme — even when Republicans had a monopoly on power on Capitol Hill.

Trump frequently castigated former House Speaker Paul Ryan, despite his unwillingness to act as a check on presidential power, for not being sufficiently supportive.He has refused bipartisan Senate demands to report on whether the Saudi government was responsible for the brutal killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi last year.

Last month, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Congress was not “smart enough” to understand the President’s tax returns.Trump has failed to seek Senate confirmation for temporary replacements for departed Cabinet secretaries, telling reporters the practice enhances his own power. In the most striking example of presidential muscle, Trump performed an end-run around Congress with a national emergency declaration to reprogram money for his border wall.

Many constitutional experts saw the move as a threat to the bedrock principle that Congress, not the President, enjoys the power of the purse.Several of Trump’s Cabinet members have made their personal disdain for congressional oversight obvious.

Former acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker sparked audible gasps in February when he broke protocol to tell the House Judiciary chairman his time for questions had expired.

And Mnuchin was involved in a bad-tempered spat with California Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters who told him to stop telling her how to run her committee after he told her to “take the gavel and bang it.”

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18 comments

  1. Who wrote this, the freaking Huffington Post?

  2. This article is “bull—-” You must be a darn liberal..

  3. This article is so partisan that it is pathetic. I won’t even try to explain why I believe it is. You’ll never get it anyway.

    You may remove me from your mailing list. I really do not care to waste my time on such articles.

    BTW – I consider myself Independent.

    Thank you.

  4. I, too, have a contempt for Congress. They want to do nothing other than investigate the President. They do not want to do the business of moving the country forward. Given that, President Trump has no choice but to go around them.

    As just one example, you mentioned declaring a national emergency to get the border wall built. Not only is it a national emergency, but Congress would not approve the money because they did not want to do what was right for the country. It was more important to them try and stop Donald Trump. Many of those who continually voted against funding the wall were all for it a few short years ago.

    Quite frankly, I am shocked that Pulse News took this stand. This President has done more for this nation in 2 years than President Obama did in 8.

  5. Jesse Anderson

    Let’s see.
    Hillary refused to hand over her private server records and lied to Congress about them. She also illegally destroyed most of them. The Clinton Foundation is as crooked as they get.
    Eric Holder refused to prosecute Black Panthers for intimidating voters. Obama appointed Tzars for everything he could think of . Never asking Congress for approval. He apologized all over the world for America and refused to make public his real birth certificate and Congress wants to condemnTrump for doing his job despite no help from them. Has anyone happened to ask if Congress worked with Trump instead against him at every turn things would be different. Let me bit to forget to mention a Muslim was elected to Congress and allowed wear he hajib which is against congressional rules. Question: Sm I mistaken that on 911 Muslims killed about 3100 Americans in an attack on our soil. The first and most important job of a president is,”TO PROTECT ANERICANS AGAINST FOREIGN ABD DOMESTIC TERRORISM. President Trump is doing his job. Now congress needs to step up and do theirs.

  6. What a load of propoganda! Actually load of crap clearly ignoring the failed coup the dems tried to pull off with the Russia hoax. Keep up your bad act! One of these days you will also need to contemplate lay-offs like CNN as the public gets sick of your false narrative

  7. How did I get your liberal ass on my screen?
    You’re DONE!

  8. First, it was collusion, but no proof.
    Then came obstruction, but Mueller declined to charge.
    So now, it is harrassment. President Trump should resist as much as he can.

  9. Until the day finally comes when at least 34 states ratify Article 5, Convention of States, We the People are going to be stuck with “do-nothing” congressional members.
    The fact is, we need term limits. We need to have some mechanism to override congressional decisions that only benefit political donors, lobbyists and special interest groups. We need to enact common sense legislation like border security and eliminate laws that benefit non-citizen over citizens especially those at the expense of the latter.
    We need a Balanced Budget Amendment, fiscal responsibility; we need to end pensions for elected officials. Why should you have to fund someone else’s retirement?
    The list goes on but, one thing is certain, nothing will change in Washington unless the people take back the power vested in them granted by the Constitution….while we still have a Constitution!

  10. Ever hear of executive privilege? The contenpt vote was mute point. Obama admin did a lot. Where was Obamas records? Any of his re ords. Sealed, thats where. Let Trump turn this country aroumd
    This double standard has to go. I am sure I am talking to a wall here

  11. EXTERMINATE ALL DEMORAT COCKROACHES PERIOD. AND THE PROBLEM WILL WILL BE FIXED! THESE CONGRESS COCKROACHES ARE DOING NOTHING BUT MAKING PROBLEMS LIKE THE BORDER AND DO ABSOLUTELY NOTHING FOR THE CITIZENS OF THIS COUNTRY. EXTERMINATE AND ERADICATE ALL DEMORATS AND RHINO’S THAT IS THE PROBLEM. THE GOVERNMENT IS SUPPOSED WORK FOR THE PEOPLE NOT RUIN EVERYTHING THEY GET NEAR.

  12. I mostly agree with what you have printed in this article. However, in one way you sound like you are sticking up for the evil democrats. Why? Most of us are disgusted with the way our government is handling all of the decisions they make against not only Mr. Trump, but, against the Constitution and we, the People of the United States of America. There is a growing talk of us marching to D.C. to take down the democrats ourselves, but doing it legally. Our country is going downhill and we will not allow that to happen. Arrests are imminent and we stand or the good of our country. This travesty has to stop even if we, ourselves stop it. Heads will then roll and I am happy for it.

  13. ‘Rein in Trump?’

    Your article is backwards.
    Who reined in the Justice dept, FBI, CIA, IRS,
    and EPA when OBAMA and the DNC weaponized those agencies against their political opponents and private citizens?

    You are a disgrace.

  14. They want to read what everything says unless it is an important law that needs passing. Dumbass democraps.

  15. Mark Stryk, CFE, CPA

    An interesting but very slanted and misleading article with no mention of the total corruption that exists in the Democratic Party now which may explain real reason the Dems in congress cannot rein in Trump. Also, no mention of Obama, Hillary, Holder, Lynch, etc. the most corrupt administration since the likes of Bill Clinton.

  16. Congress can’t rein in President Trump because he has done NOTHING wrong. Unlike the liberals in congress who have violated immigration laws on many points, encouraged an INVASION by waves of military age Hispanic and Arab men. Allowed fake families to use children NOT their own to pretend to be family units, and thus get preferential treatment at the borders.

    I could go on for weeks, but this shows some major points to ponder.

  17. God Family and Country Is what Donald Trump and I stand for We Love Our God He is the lord and giver of all life Like the Constitution guarantees the right to Life. Donald Trump puts Honest Judges on the Bench that Believe in Freedom of Speech The right to bear arms .And the right of a baby when conceived to be born, not murdered in the womb. It will go very harshly for you at the judgment seat of Christ that believe that the torturous murder of an innocent child is Health care. Jesus said “I come that you might have life and have Life Abundantly” . The Devil came to Lie Kill Steal and Destroy .What side are you on? I pray that one day your eyes will be opened .that you would let Jesus into your heart . Amen

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