President Donald Trump escalated his complaints about the myriad of investigations he is facing on Thursday morning, tweeting that there was “no reason” for the House Intelligence Committee to open a new, sweeping probe into whether his decision making as president is motivated by financial gain.
A day after claiming he’s never heard of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Trump began the day by lashing out at the congressman, claiming that the Democrat is poised to examine “every aspect of my life, both financial and personal.”
The president went on to say that “unlimited presidential harassment” has “never happened before,” adding, “The Republicans never did this to President Obama, there would be no time left to run government. I hear other committee heads will do the same thing. Even stealing people who work at White House!”
He concluded the little Twitter tantrum, “PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT! It should never be allowed to happen again!”
These are not the missives of a man who’s feeling confident in the face of scrutiny. On the contrary, between these tweets and his State of the Union threat, Trump appears to be panicking a bit.
Let’s unpack the tantrum a little, because the presidential pitch is deeply flawed.
Are Adam Schiff and House Dems going to investigate every aspect of Trump’s life, “both financial and personal”? No. As Rachel explained on last night’s show, the House Intelligence Committee has established five areas of interest in its investigation into the Russia scandal. The scope includes probing “whether any foreign actor has sought to compromise or holds leverage, financial or otherwise, over Donald Trump, his family, his business, or his associates.”
Sure, that’s likely to make the president uncomfortable, but it’s hardly an unreasonable line of inquiry under the circumstances.
Is this level of scrutiny unprecedented? It’s probably fair to say the Russia scandal is itself unique in American history, but Trump may not realize just how aggressive Republicans were when investigating the Clinton and Obama presidencies. Maybe someone can share with Trump some reading materials on the number of Benghazi investigations Congress launched and the melons Dan Burton used to shoot in his backyard.
For that matter, maybe the guy who harassed Obama for years with a racist conspiracy theory should avoid about whining about “presidential harassment.”
Will there be “time left to run government” during investigations? Of course. There are 535 voting members of Congress, and they won’t all be spending every waking hour probing White House scandals. Government continued to function during investigations into Nixon and Clinton, and unless Trump shuts down the government again, it’ll continue to function now.
What does “Even stealing people who work at White House!” mean? Your guess is as good as mine.
What did Trump mean when he wrote investigations “should never be allowed to happen again”? I’d love to get a more detailed answer from the White House on this, because Congress’ oversight responsibilities are a core function of the institution. It’s not even clear how it could be prohibited.
The larger point, however, is that the president likes the idea of barring investigations from happening at all.
For his part, Adam Schiff, after hearing the president call him a “political hack,” wrote on Twitter yesterday, “I can understand why the idea of meaningful oversight terrifies the President. Several of his close associates are going to jail, others await trial, and criminal investigations continue. We’re going to do our job and won’t be distracted or intimidated by threats or attacks.”