Democrats quickly confront the limits of their power to stop Trump

Democrats quickly called for Whitaker to follow his old boss’s lead and recuse himself from overseeing the Mueller probe—a step Whitaker reportedly has no intention of taking. “It’s basically a constitutional crime scene, and we want to try to rope it off with yellow tape as quickly as possible,” Representative Jamie Raskin of Maryland, a constitutional scholar who serves on both the House judiciary and oversight committees, told me in a phone interview on Thursday.

Yet writing letters and making requests is about all the Democrats can do right now. As a practical matter, they won’t actually hold the House majority until January. At that point, they could back up their demands with the authority to subpoena records and testimony from officials at the White House or the Department of Justice. But even then, it’s unclear whether Democrats would be able to force the president’s hand or ensure that Mueller’s investigation—if it doesn’t conclude in the next two months—could proceed unimpeded.

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