The Democratic-controlled House is obsessed with bringing down President Trump and removing him from office. When Republicans controlled the House and Senate, there was a system of checks and balances in place that “served” to prevent partisan and “bad-faith” investigations from going forward. This is not to say that Republicans were there to stymy legitimate investigations. Rather, they were there to prevent/curtail investigations and conduct that solely reeked of partisanship and vengeance. Now that Democrats control the House, multiple investigations are moving forward at a rapid pace. Sadly, there does not appear to be a strong and reliable mechanism in place to prevent these types of seemingly partisan and bad-faith investigations from going forward. Perhaps there should be.
Democrats have been quite vocal about their goals. An article in the Washington Examiner set forth their plans once they took control, stating:
The New York Times reports Democrats are planning for political revenge, with a blitzkrieg of “investigations into nearly every corner of the Trump administration.” Large numbers of House Democrats are likely to push for impeachment either of Trump or, following Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s lead, of newly appointed Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.”
It doesn’t matter that, with the Senate probably firmly in Republican hands, there would be no chance of securing the two-thirds vote needed there to remove either one from office. The very effort to impeach would dominate House activity and headlines, further ratchet up a toxic political atmosphere, detract from any ability to handle even the most basic legislation, and cause political and cultural instability that could shake the U.S. economy and undermine the country’s international standing.
The fundamental problem with endless Congressional investigations and/or investigations stemming from partisanship and/or bad-faith is that there is no apparent system of checks and balances in place to prevent abuse. Moreover, there does not appear to be a way to prevent these types of investigations/conduct from taking place and/or moving forward.
For example, Congressional Democrats have threatened to impeach the president for years. While the Constitution provides a safety net before a president can actually be removed, it does not necessarily provide a mechanism within which to prevent one party from initiating (and pursuing) partisan or bad-faith impeachment proceedings. Therefore, if Democrats in the House decided to prepare articles of impeachment (no matter how weak or baseless the grounds), Republicans would be virtually powerless until later on in the process. Until then, a long and expensive investigation would take place and the government would be at a standstill, as virtually nothing would get done. While Democrats have not pursued impeachment yet, they are facing mounting pressure from some of their bigger donors, who expect them to do.
Another similar area of concern involves the House Intelligence Committee, which is now controlled by the Democrats. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, the Committee recently indicated that it intended to expand its work to look into any alleged foreign influence over the president by Russia or any other country. In doing so, Democrats could potentially look into the president’s personal finances and the Trump Organization. According to Jack Langer, a spokesman for Republicans on the Committee, “[t]his is a gross abuse of a committee that was created to do oversight of the intelligence community, not to conduct sprawling, endless investigations of one party’s political opponents.”
Ironically, not only did the Democratic-controlled Committee decide to expand its inquiry, it also voted to send copies of various transcripts of its closed-door interviews to Robert Mueller, who happens to be investigating the president. Given that Democrats now control the Committee, Republicans on the Committee are somewhat limited when it comes to stopping the Committee’s seemingly partisan “investigations” against the president and/or those associated with him.
It would not be unreasonable to implement additional and/or new measures to prevent bad-faith, partisan or meritless Congressional claims/investigations. Such measures exist in the legal context, where there are laws/rules in place that penalize litigants and/or their lawyers from pursuing meritless claims or engaging in “bad-faith” litigation. In the federal context, for example, Rule 11 serves this purpose.
While Congress’ power is immense, there must be a way to prevent the abuse of such power when it becomes self-evident. The confirmation process involving Justice Kavanaugh is but one example of how some in Congress can abuse their power and pursue partisan and bad-faith investigations without any significant risks.
If there were stronger policies, laws or mechanisms in place, perhaps those choosing to pursue such partisan and bad-faith investigations would think twice. That would be a positive development no matter what side of the political aisle one sits on.
Mr. Hakim is a political writer and commentator and an attorney. His articles have been published in The Washington Examiner, The Daily Caller, The Federalist, The Western Journal, American Thinker and other online publications.