December 16, 2019

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Pelosi's gavel will worsen Trump's headaches

Editorial

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 4/1/2019 (345 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

With the gentle act of the passing of a gavel, the jackhammer-pounding headaches that have plagued U.S. President Donald Trump for much of the past year got exponentially more excruciating.

Mr. Trump, who of late had lapsed further into "poor lonely me" lamentations after being forced — by the partial U.S. government shutdown he engineered — to remain in Washington and skip New Year’s Eve reverie at his posh Mar-a-Lago enclave in Florida, has often lashed out at those who oppose the style and substance of his presidency.

Mr. Trump has seemed unrelenting in his pursuit of unhappiness

Continually referring to the Robert Mueller-led investigation into Russian meddling in the 2106 election as a "witch hunt" and lobbing insults at former staffers and advisers who have left his administration and, in some cases, co-operated with the Mueller team, Mr. Trump has seemed unrelenting in his pursuit of unhappiness.

But behind his mostly Twitter-launched fusillades of factually challenged and self-pity-infused fury, the 45th U.S. president has had the not-insubstantial advantage of leading a government in which his party controlled the House of Representatives, the Senate and the White House.

For two years, calls from opposition Democrats for congressional investigations of his political and personal dealings were ignored by an obsequious Republican-held Congress. No elected Republican — save a suddenly courageous few who were not seeking re-election in last fall’s U.S. midterms — dared even question Mr. Trump’s authority. The president, for all intents and purposes, had free rein to do or say whatever his base urges implored.

In newly elected House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s hands, the gavel will immediately assume an ominous, thundering tone. (Evan Vucci / Associated Press files)

In newly elected House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s hands, the gavel will immediately assume an ominous, thundering tone. (Evan Vucci / Associated Press files)

Until Thursday, that is, when a new Congress was sworn in, with Democrats now the majority power in the House. If Mr. Trump thought he was in "poor me" territory on New Year’s Eve, one can hardly imagine the depths to which his perception of put-upon-ness will descend once House Democrats, armed with the power of subpoena, launch what is sure to be a lengthy list of subcommittee investigations.

Those probes will delve into, among other things, alleged collusion with Russian interests during the election; possible obstruction of justice related to the firing of former FBI director James Comey; Mr. Trump’s personal and business financial dealings, specifically related to possible Russian involvements; and perceived violations of the constitutional emoluments clause, which forbids any president from personally profiting from dealings with foreign governments.

One or more of those investigations will inevitably include subpoenas to force Mr. Trump to turn over his tax records

One or more of those investigations will inevitably include subpoenas to force Mr. Trump to turn over his tax records, which he has steadfastly refused to do and which many observers believe Mr. Trump has so energetically opposed because they might reveal uncomfortable truths about his personal and business connections — and, perhaps, debts and obligations — to Russian and Saudi interests.

The Mueller investigation has already resulted in some three dozen indictments, including charges against former members of Mr. Trump’s inner circle. But as far-reaching as the special counsel’s probe has been, it’s unlikely that the full breadth of its revelations will ever be made public when Mr. Mueller’s report is finally completed.

Congressional investigations, on the other hand, tend to be more public affairs, and the political peril facing Mr. Trump has suddenly become very clear and present. Debates will continue over whether a sitting president can be indicted for a crime, and whether or when the Democrat-controlled House will accumulate enough evidence to launch impeachment proceedings in 2019 or 2020.

But in newly elected House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s hands, the gavel will immediately assume an ominous, thundering tone. Not great news for a guy who already suffers from continuous and compounded headaches.

Editorials are the consensus view of the Winnipeg Free Press’ editorial board.

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