The Democrats now control oversight and investigations, with subpoena power. On her second day, Pelosi denounced the “culture of cronyism, corruption and incompetence” in the Trump administration, including, she specified, the personal enrichment of individual cabinet members. For two years, numerous ethics scandals have passed by a Congress that barely exerted itself to shrug; now, Democrats chair the committees of jurisdiction and have the power to jail those who defy subpoenas. That power has not been exercised in almost a century, but every weapon in the congressional arsenal may be needed to stop a president who weaponises reality itself.
House Democrats’ oversight and investigatory powers are much broader than Mueller’s very specific investigation into the Trump campaign’s possible collusion with Russia. They have announced their intention to follow the money and can rigorously investigate not only Russian electoral interference, but also the Trump family’s financial ties with foreign governments, including Russia and Saudi Arabia, and the possibility that those financial interests are influencing the administration’s policy; money laundering; ethics violations; abuses of power, including profiting from the presidency; and obstruction of justice. They can investigate Trump’s personal finances, and demand his tax returns; if he refuses, they can take it to the courts. In addition, they have promised to scrutinise the legality of some of the administration’s more controversial policies, including the separation of immigrant families at the border. Should the president fire Mueller, they can reappoint him as independent counsel. Any of these investigations might seriously change the picture regarding impeachment. [Continue reading…]