- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Besieged by Democratic investigations, President Trump complained Tuesday that attempts to find dirt on him are driven by anger over the 2016 election and will thwart Congress itself from getting anything done for the American people.

Democratic investigators claim they can walk and chew gum at the same time, yet Mr. Trump says they decided to poke into his administration, business contacts and family members to dent his presidency, as the 2020 election looms.

“They want to do that instead of getting legislation passed. Eighty-one people or organizations got letters. It’s a disgrace,” Mr. Trump said at a White House event. “Instead of doing infrastructure, instead of doing health care, instead of doing so many things that they should be doing, they want to play games.”

He was responding to dozens of document requests House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler fired off Monday to people in Mr. Trump’s orbit.

Besides Mr. Nadler, Democrats on the intelligence, oversight and foreign affairs panels want the White House to let them interview the translators who were there for Mr. Trump’s unorthodox meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin, or anyone briefed on the encounters.

Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings on Tuesday also criticized the White House for ignoring the panel’s request for documents related to purported abuses in granting security clearances to staffers such as presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner. He suggested subpoenas will be coming.

“There is a key difference between a president who exercises his authority under the Constitution and a president who overrules career experts and his top advisers to benefit his family members and then conceals his actions from the American people,” Mr. Cummings said.

The back-and-forth is causing tensions to boil over between Mr. Trump and his Democratic foes.

“They could not stand losing in 2016. The anger,” Mr. Trump said. “They just haven’t gotten used to the fact that we won a lot of states that haven’t been won by Republicans in a long time.”

And he repeated his State of the Union offer that the two sides can either legislate together, or spar over investigations, but they cannot do both.

Analysts said that may be an easy choice for Democrats.

“Since much of the legislation that they do process will not pass the Senate and if it does will be vetoed, the incentives to legislate are not powerful,” said Ross Baker, a political science professor at Rutgers University. “They will do the obligatory stuff: budget, authorizations and appropriations, but probably not a lot more.”

Julian Zelizer, a politics professor at Princeton University, said the size of the investigation isn’t what’s important, so much as Democrats’ ability to deftly handle what they find out.

“A large scale and scope does not mean overreaching. Indeed, sometimes that is what is needed — as happened with Watergate — to figure out the connections between different parts of the story,” he said. “The key is how the investigation is handled and the substance of the potential charges.”

The White House is already sparring with Democrats over Mr. Cummings’ requests concerning Mr. Kushner.

White House counsel Pat Cipollone said the committee is being unreasonable and “extraordinary intrusive.”

“Although we are prepared to continue negotiations in good faith, the committee seeks unilateral concessions without any offer of accommodation on its part, and then complains that the White House has refused to simply turn over everything the committee inappropriately seeks,” he wrote in a letter to Mr. Cummings posted by Axios. “These actions suggest that the Committee is not interested in proper oversight, but rather seeks information that it knows cannot be provided consistent with applicable law.”

Mr. Cummings said the White House’s argument “defies the Constitutional separation of powers, decades of precedent before this committee, and just plain common-sense.”

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