My favorite part of this story is the idea that the document was “secret” rather than something prepared with every intention of leaking it to reporters. It’s rocket fuel for Republican turnout this fall! Steve Bannon has been pushing the same strategy for weeks. If you can’t convince your side to show up to vote as thanks for a tax cut, you leverage their Trump-worship by warning them that he’ll be under daily investigation for the next two years if Democrats reclaim the majority.
Which is true, by the way. Just because it’s “scaremongering” doesn’t mean there isn’t reason to be scared.
There are 18 separate topics identified by GOPers as potential targets for Democratic inquiry. Alternate headline: “House GOP issues list of subjects it’s chosen not to perform oversight on.”
President Trump’s tax returns
Trump family businesses — and whether they comply with the Constitution’s emoluments clause, including the Chinese trademark grant to the Trump Organization
Trump’s dealings with Russia, including the president’s preparation for his meeting with Vladimir Putin
The payment to Stephanie Clifford — a.k.a. Stormy Daniels
Meh. Most of that is already priced into Trump’s stock. Voters have accepted that he has conflicts of interest, notches on the bedpost, and a decidedly too-rosy view of Russia. The prospect of solving the tax-return mystery would goose public interest but I don’t know what Democrats can do about that, realistically. Are they going to subpoena his returns? Having one party rummage through the other’s IRS files for financial info feels like not so great of a precedent.
These topics could bite, though:
The travel ban
Family separation policy
Hurricane response in Puerto Rico
Election security and hacking attempts
Personal failings by Trump won’t penetrate voters’ minds; there are too many to process as is. Policy failings might be different. The GOP’s November pitch, implicitly, is that you can’t argue with results: The daily tweet-mares, the personnel chaos, the petty dramas involved in perpetual score-settling can all be safely compartmentalized and set aside when the economy is rolling and top-notch nominees are being offered for the Supreme Court. The Democratic strategy will be to try to break through those compartments and show that the personal informs the political, that callousness leads to neglect, mismanagement, and poor personnel choices down the chain of governance. No votes will flip by showing he’s “unpresidential” in his interactions, but some might if they can demonstrate that he’s “unpresidential” as a manager.
Although even there, I don’t know. The travel ban, family separation, and Puerto Rico’s clean-up can and will be shrugged off by many voters as problems that mainly concern other people, some of them not even U.S. citizens. Even federal negligence in securing elections might not matter, as that’s another matter where views of Trump are mostly priced in. If you’re a Democrat, you probably think he’s working hand-in-glove with Russia to begin with. If you’re a Republican, you probably think the issue is either overblown or not necessarily a bad thing so long as it’s Team Blue that’s being targeted, not Team Red. Daily hearings by a Democratic House might end up being little more than theater, effectively. All part of the reality show.
Update: Forgot to say: If you think Jeff Sessions is under pressure from Trump to investigate Hillary, Obama, etc, now, wait until a Democratic House comes after him. The next AG had better be prepared to carry out multiple probes of big-name Democrats because that’s what POTUS will demand.