In the wake of the victory in the House of Representatives, Democrats are preparing to hurl stones at President Trump. The Donald—flushed with Senate victory– has responded by setting loose a pre-emptive avalanche.
The cheers had yet to subside when presumptive Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced that Democratic victory in the lower house meant the restoration of legislative oversight and the constitutional system of checks, balances.
In practical terms this means the House withholding funds for Trump’s wall and immigration programmes and launching corruption investigations into cabinet members. Of course, there is also the number one target—Trump and his family. This involves inquiries into sexual misconduct, obstruction of justice, violation of campaign funding laws, possible tax evasion, ethics violations, Russian collusion and, support for the Mueller investigation.
Impeachment is lurking about in the political background. A Democratic majority in the House means they could quickly pass a resolution. But it would hit the brick wall of Trump acolytes in the Senate where a two-thirds majority is required to remover the president from the White House.
Nancy Pelosi also extended the traditional olive branch in her victory press conference. Donald Trump initially responded with a corresponding show of traditional bipartisanship. It lasted—at the most—five minutes. The suspension of White House credentials for CNN reporter Jim Acosta and the firing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions insured that the political chasm that divides America has only widened.
Trump hates CNN. And with good reason. They are as biased against him as Fox News is biased for him. He wants the cable news network out of his press conferences. But the First Amendment blocks him. So the White House has jumped onto the #Metoo bandwagon with the claim that Acosta “inappropriately touched” a female member of the White House staff while locking horns with the president during his post-election press conference. View the video. Draw your own conclusions.
Sessions is another matter. Trump has been after his Attorney General ever since Sessions recused himself from the Mueller investigation. The move effectively blocked Trump from firing – or at least hobbling– former FBI director Robert Mueller’s investigation into charges of Russian collusion and other alleged nefarious activities.
Jeff Sessions is a far-right Southern aristocrat lawyer with a questionable history on civil rights issues. The late Senator Edward Kennedy described him as a “throwback.” But the now former attorney general is also a firm believer in the rule of law and the role it plays in underpinning American democracy. That is why the key passage in his resignation letter reads: “Most importantly, in my time as Attorney General, we have restored and upheld the rule of law—a glorious tradition that each of us has a responsibility to safeguard.”
The passage is a clear dig at President Trump who has made it clear that he puts personal loyalty above loyal to the constitution and the law of the land, and wants to transform the Department of Justice and the law enforcement bodies it oversees from an independent force into one controlled by himself.
The man Trump has appointed to temporarily succeed Sessions is expected to comply with presidential wishes. Weight lifting ex-college football star Matthew Whitaker has already gone on record as wanting to limit the scope of the Mueller investigation. He has also suggested hamstringing the probe by starving it of funds. Whitaker is the “acting” Attorney General. But quite often there is nothing more permanent than the temporary. If that is the case then Trump avoids a Senate confirmation hearing which may encounter difficulties even with Republican control of the Upper House.
The Democrats—and some Republicans– have reacted with fury and threatened political war. The president responded: “They can play that game. But we can play it better…I think I’m better at that game than they are, actually, but we’ll find out.” And thus ended the shortest-lived bipartisanship in American history.
Tom Arms is editor of Lookaheadnews.com