As the day after Election Day was just getting underway, Donald Trump published an odd tweet that sounded a bit like a threat. The president said that if the new House Democratic majority investigates Team Trump, “we will likewise be forced to consider investigating them for all of the leaks of Classified Information, and much else, at the Senate level.”
This didn’t make sense. For one thing, it’s not the Senate’s job to investigate the House. For another, the president made it sound as if he’s aware of Democratic wrongdoing, which he’s prepared to overlook as part of some kind of corrupt quid pro quo: if House Dems ignore his scandals, he’ll make sure Republicans ignore theirs.
At a White House press conference today, Trump elaborated on this:
“They can play that game, but we can play it better. Because we have a thing called the United States Senate. And a lot of very questionable things were done between leaks of classified information and many other elements that should not have taken place…. I think I’m better at that game than they are, actually.”
Again, if Trump has evidence of “very questionable” misconduct from lawmakers, he can pursue these lines of inquiry. But he seems to believe he can find some kind of leverage to avoid investigations.
Soon after, the president also quickly dismissed the idea of working with a divided Congress on public policy in the midst of investigations.
“You can’t do them simultaneously, by the way. Somebody says, ‘Oh, you can do ‘em both.’ No, you can’t. Because if they’re doing that, we’re not doing the other, just so you understand. So we won’t be doing that.”
Got that? If House Democrats investigate Trump’s scandals, Trump won’t work with Congress on substantive issues. The president evidently wants the new House Democratic majority to choose between legislating and conducting oversight – because in his mind, it has to be one or the other.
Trump went on to say that if his White House is confronted with subpoenas, “government would come to a halt, and I would blame then.”
Or, alternatively, he could cooperate with congressional oversight of the executive branch?
One might start to get the impression that the president is scared of congressional investigations. I wonder why that is.