Republicans Highlight Their Own Failure to Check Trump’s Corruption
It’s easy to lose track of all the corruption embedded within the Trump presidency. Every week brings a handful of new scandals, any one of which would be the biggest controversy of any other administration. Many of these happenings represent legitimate grounds for impeachment, if not the criminality of the president. For anyone struggling to keep up, Republicans have you covered. According to Axios, a spreadsheet outlining some of the investigations Democrats could launch should they take control of the House in November has been making its way through Capitol Hill. It reads like a laundry list of President Trump’s improprieties as president, which have gone largely unchecked by Republican lawmakers.
Reportedly compiled in the office of a senior House Republican, the spreadsheet contains over 100 investigation requests that have been made by Democratic members of the House. Because Republicans control Congress, these requests have not been honored, but that could change after the midterms. Here is a small sample of scandals that could be under the microscope:
- 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
Axios notes that lawyers close to the White House have explained that the Trump administration is “nowhere near prepared for the investigatory onslaught that awaits them” and that a wave of inquiries from a Democrat-controlled House would be “among the greatest threats to his presidency.”
This isn’t to say the White House isn’t already in disarray as it tries to combat the mounting legal issues facing the president, who last week was implicated as an un-indicted coconspirator in campaign finance crimes. Later in the week, both Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organization chief financial officer who is intimately familiar with the business dealings of his former employer, and David Pecker, the National Enquirer owner who is reportedly sitting on a trove of damaging stories about the president, were both granted immunity by prosecutors. On Saturday, a Washington Post report detailed the extent of Trump’s growing fear that he could soon face legal repercussions. According to White House aides spoken to by the paper, Trump “has been distracted in meetings, polling staff about developments in legal cases.”
Just as the spreadsheet doubles as a catalog of Trump’s corruption, it also highlights the complicity of Republican lawmakers who have blocked Democratic attempts to investigate the president. Their failure to act on any of these fronts underscores the notion that their loyalty to Trump has superseded their loyalty to country. It’s the job of Congress to check the power of the president. House Republicans have chosen to abdicate this responsibility, as carrying it out would reflect poorly on Trump. The impact of the president’s corruption on the United States is a secondary concern.
Pending the Democrats taking control of Congress, the only real check on the president’s power is Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. As Trump’s legal troubles have mounted, so, too, have his attacks on Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who last March recused himself from overseeing the probe. If Trump were to fire Sessions, it would allow him to install someone at the top of the Justice Department who could effectively end the Russia inquiry. As the president continues to panic, he could see axing his attorney general as his only escape. In their desperation to insulate the president from suffering consequences for his actions, Republican lawmakers are beginning to warm to the idea. Last week, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said the president is “entitled to an attorney general he has faith in,” while Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said he could make time to hold a hearing to confirm a new attorney general.
One of the only Republican lawmakers who took any action against the president’s agenda was John McCain, who died on Saturday. McCain had been one of the longest-tenured, most well-respected members of Congress. He was a war hero and a Republican icon. In the hours following his death, the president blocked the White House from issuing a statement acknowledging McCain’s service to America. The next day, he went golfing and continued tweeting about the Mueller investigation. On Monday morning, the American flags at the White House flew at full staff, another sign of disrespect for a member of Congress who has yet to be buried. Nary a one of McCain’s former Republican colleagues in the Senate has criticized the president’s response.
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