Democrats are steeling for a fight with President Donald Trump as the White House ignores subpoenas, denies access to witnesses and otherwise stonewalls congressional oversight in the aftermath of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
In the latest case, Trump, his family and the Trump Organization have filed a lawsuit against Deutsche Bank and Capital One attempting to thwart congressional subpoenas into his financial and business dealings, asserting the requests are out of bounds.
That comes as Trump’s Treasury Secretary is declining to produce the president’s tax returns, Attorney General William Barr is threatening to back out of his agreement to appear this week before the Judiciary Committee and former White House Counsel Don McGahn and other officials are being told not to testify before Congress.
Neither side is expected to back down. Trump says since Mueller finished his report of Russian interference into the election, there’s no further need to investigate. And while Democrats say it’s their duty to conduct oversight and are adamant that they will win in the end, they are also confronting the limits of their own enforcement powers.
“He’s prepared to fight us tooth and nail. And we’re prepared to fight him back,” said Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Ca., the chairwoman of the Financial Services Committee. “He obviously has something to hide.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is urging the committee chairmen to push forward with their oversight agendas, shelving for now calls from the left flank to launch impeachment hearings against Trump.
On Tuesday, the chairman of the House intelligence committee, Adam Schiff, made a criminal referral to the Justice Department about Erik Prince, the founder of the security firm Blackwater, alleging he lied to the committee in 2017.
Congress is buckling in for several actions in the aftermath of Mueller’s report, which did not find that Trump or his campaign knowingly conspired with Russia in the 2016 election.
Some Democrats have thrown out other options: daily fines for not showing up, for example, or cutting appropriations for an official’s agency. But those ideas might not be politically popular.
Despite drawbacks, Democrats say they will have to fight on multiple fronts to get the witnesses and documents they need.
Schiff and Waters, whose committees subpoenaed Deutsche Bank and others in April over the president’s finances, said in a joint statement that Trump’s “unprecedented stonewalling will not work.”
Schiff said he wants to know whether Russians used laundered money for transactions with the Trump Organization. Trump’s businesses have benefited from Russian investment over the years.
Eric Trump, executive vice president of The Trump Organization, called Democrats “deranged” and the subpoenas a form of “presidential harassment.”