Trump Responds to Democrats Winning Back the House with Threat of Investigating Them

Published on November 7, 2018 by Athena Pallas

It sounds like an episode of the “Dr. Phil” show in which Dr. Phil might explain that a guest’s extreme anger, bad behavior, defensiveness and lashing out at others is a maladaptive strategy of “get them before they get you”. President Trump is acting like that guest, reacting to the Democrats winning back the majority in the House by tweeting out a threat that if Democrats start investigating him and his allies (which Trump just calls “us”), he will have the Senate turn around and investigate Democrats. Such a threat does not exactly make for a great olive branch to foster bipartisan cooperation now that both parties hold the majority in one house of Congress each, but then neither cooperation nor olive branches are Trump’s strong suit. According to The Hill:

President Trump on Wednesday threatened to respond to House Democrat efforts to investigate the White House by ordering investigations into Senate Democrats in the wake of a midterm election that ensured the two chambers of Congress would be divided for the next two years…The House majority gives Democrats subpoena and investigatory power, posing potential headaches for the White House. Top Democratic lawmakers have vowed to demand the president’s tax returns and investigate other aspects of his presidency if they regained the majority…The president has often floated investigating the opposing party. He has been vocally critical of Attorney General Jeff Sessions for failing to properly look into what he believes are Democratic misdeeds, and questioned why special counsel Robert Mueller is not investigating Democrats.

In his tweet early this morning, Trump wrote, “If the Democrats think they are going to waste Taxpayer Money investigating us at the House level, then we will likewise be forced to consider investigating them for all of the leaks of Classified Information, and much else, at the Senate level. Two can play that game!”

Responses to this tweet showed people were amused, feeling that Trump was sounding scared by making this threat. This person shared a meme of a stone-faced Robert Mueller and a ranting Trump behind bars with the tagline “You scared bro? You sound scared.”

Trump’s threat to have the two houses of Congress at war in dueling investigations is completely at odds with his statement to House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), whom he told that the two parties should work together. Trump did also send a tweet in support of Pelosi, but that message is so at odds with other Trump statements that it is hard to take seriously – Trump seems to be all over the place in his message. Trump’s other vitriolic rhetoric is again problematic to the interests of working together.

The Senate does retain a Republican majority, due to be even larger than its current majority, which is of particular import to Trump’s judicial and Cabinet nominations, which will likely have an even easier time of making their way through in the new Congress. On the other side, the Democratic majority House will provide important oversight of the Trump administration that has thus far been largely absent due to Republicans currently hold the majority in both houses. Given the mismatch in party majorities between the two houses in the new Congress, it may be quite difficult to get key legislation passed by both houses unless the parties are willing and able to make compromises, which have been in very short supply since Trump became president.

President Trump is expected to hold a press conference about the midterms at 11:30AM EST today. One might expect that he will focus on the Senate, where Republicans will still hold a majority. Even in his tweet announcing the press conference, Trump focused on “our (i.e. Republicans’) success”, without mentioning the Democrats retaking the House:

We’ll have to see how this all plays out, if Congressional legislation will be completely stalled by different majorities in the two houses of Congress, how Trump will react to House Democrats investigating him and acquiring his tax returns (somehow one imagines he will have his lawyers try to challenge Democrats getting his tax returns), and how the division in Congress, and the division in the country at large, might play into the 2020 presidential election.

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Featured image by Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons.