House Democrats must prepare for brutal trench war

Republicans will lose unified control of the federal government in 2019, as Democrats will take control of the House of Representatives after their midterm victory on Tuesday. It’s a highly welcome repudiation of President Trump’s bigotry and 1-percenter policy.

But House Democrats better be ready for bitter trench war. America is in an extremely parlous state, and they are the only ones at the federal level who can defend our democratic institutions from the suppurating political and moral corruption of the Republican Party.

It’s already starting, with Trump pushing out Attorney General Jeff Sessions (who had recused himself from the Mueller investigation) on Wednesday and naming Matthew Whitaker, an utter toady who won’t interfere with Trump if he tries to obstruct justice, as acting attorney general. Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), who will be chair of the House Judiciary Committee next year, has the right idea:

Americans must have answers immediately as to the reasoning behind @realDonaldTrump removing Jeff Sessions from @TheJusticeDept. Why is the President making this change and who has authority over Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation? We will be holding people accountable.

— (((Rep. Nadler))) (@RepJerryNadler) November 7, 2018

With the House majority comes two important powers: authority over the budget and subpoenas. The first is simple — the House is where appropriations come from. That means Democrats get substantial leverage over what gets funded, which they should use to stop any more rollbacks of social insurance or more tax cuts for the rich.

The second will be more complicated. House committees can conduct investigations and have subpoena power. (Ironically, due to a Republican rule change in 2015, most Democratic committee chairs can issue these unilaterally, so that will make things a bit easier.) Protecting Mueller will be challenging, as Nixon himself proved in the infamous Saturday Night Massacre that got rid of Watergate prosecutor Archibald Cox. But on the other hand, that eventually helped destroy Nixon: the firing was ruled illegal, led to the appointment of a new special prosecutor, and badly dented Nixon’s popularity. Democrats must do their utmost to keep Mueller in his post, or failing that, keep investigating how he was fired and what he found.

Beyond looking into White House interference with the special counsel, probably the most important thing for Democrats to investigate is possible election-rigging on the part of state Republican officials (most notoriously Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp), as Hamilton Nolan argues. A close second is Trump’s monumental corruption — Dems need to get his tax returns, pursue an Emoluments Clause challenge to his rampant profiteering off the presidency, expose his possibly-illegal hush money payments to porn stars, and investigate his ties to Saudi Arabia and Russia, just for starters.

Now, it will be difficult to get sustained attention on this stuff. Every day Trump easily gets the media to follow the bouncing ball of whatever new outrageous lie or bug-eyed lunacy he has come up with. Democrats must cultivate a theatrical sense to …read more

Source:: The Week – Politics


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