Congress' Republican majority has shown no interest in conducting oversight of Donald Trump's presidency, despite its many scandals and controversies. GOP leaders realize that if Democrats gain any power at all on Capitol Hill after next month's midterm elections, the White House will face the kind of scrutiny it's been able to avoid for two years.
And Republicans aren't making much of an effort to hide their fears about the possible consequences.
In May, for example, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) warned that Democrats might try to hold the president accountable, complete with hearings and subpoenas. In August, Axios published a list "that's circulated through Republican circles," which meticulously previewed "the investigations Democrats will likely launch if they flip the House." It included, among other things, scrutiny of Trump's tax returns.
Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) added his voice to the chorus during a lengthy interview with Associated Press reporters. When a reporter asked about possible Democratic scrutiny of the president's controversial finances, and whether that's "a legitimate line of inquiry," the GOP leader responded:
"I think it'll help the president get re-elected.... This business of presidential harassment may or may not quite be the winner they think it is."
It's an important look into the Senate majority leader's perspective. A fair amount of evidence recently emerged suggesting Trump committed tax fraud and spent much of his life benefiting from illegal handouts. If Congress were to explore the president's alleged misdeeds, however, Mitch McConnell would characterize it as "harassment."
When another reporter at the same event asked if there's anything that McConnell would consider a "legitimate" investigation into the Trump administration," the senator didn't answer directly, but he did say, "I do think as a matter of political tactics ... it would not be smart."
Or put another way, as far as the Senate's top Republican is concerned, the "smart" thing for lawmakers to do is to continue to look the other way when confronted with possible evidence of corruption.