Trump to Dems: Investigate me and you'll find it works both ways

Does it really? Naah, but it makes for a good sound bite the day after your political opponents finally get their hands on subpoena power. Donald Trump greeted the new House majority this morning by suggesting that he’d order investigations of House Democrats if they go overboard on oversight:

That’s not actually how this works. Trump can’t order the Department of Justice to open investigations into the president’s political opponents on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue because they’re annoying him with their oversight authority. Congress gets to conduct investigations into the executive branch as political actions; they can’t prosecute anything other than an impeachment, and they are only accountable to the voters. Prosecutorial power is another authority entirely, one given to the executive branch as a means to enforce laws passed by Congress, not to usurp their standing as a coequal branch. That authority is greatly restricted by both the Constitution (Article I, Section 6) and tradition when it comes to applying it to members of Congress.

Even if the DoJ has an arguable jurisdiction on probing leaks of classified information (Congress usually polices itself in that regard), Trump just blew that cover by making it into an overtly political threat. If Trump seriously tries to turn the Department of Justice into a political attack machine to intimidate Democrats out of their oversight prerogatives, he’ll find out just how quickly Congress resorts to that impeachment power. Just shooting his mouth off about it is bad enough, even if he doesn’t mean it.

It’s pretty clear, however, that Trump’s just venting. His next tweet praised the incoming Inquisitor as the most deserving of the Speaker’s gavel, and Trump even pledged to whip a few Republican votes for Nancy Pelosi:

Say what? Didn’t Republicans just spend a considerable amount of effort making Pelosi the poster image of everything wrong with the Democrats? Yes they did, but Jon Allen lets everyone in on a dirty little secret:

Hmmm. Sounds kind of swampy to me, but YMMV.

Pelosi will likely focus more immediately on policy issues, but Pelosi isn’t the entire caucus. Plenty of Democrats who will now get committee chairs and subpoena power will give in to temptation and crank up investigations. They’ve spent two years firing up the base on “resistance,” and anything less will be a betrayal. That may come back to burn them, however; just ask the 1998 House Republican caucus how well impeachment worked out for them.

We won’t have to ask, though. Plenty of people will chant the inevitable “overplay their hand” mantra across the Trumposphere for the next two years, and in fact it’s already started. Don’t expect the media to adopt it, however, as they’ll have their hands full with “pouncing” Republicans and conservatives for, well … forever.

Jazz Shaw Jul 06, 2022 9:01 AM ET