Investigations of Trump Are Power Play, Conservatives Say

February 14, 2019 Updated: February 15, 2019

News Analysis

Conservative leaders say the rapidly expanding constellation of congressional investigations of President Donald Trump, his campaign, his transition team, and his associates, is a power play by Democrats who aim to discredit the president and defeat him in the 2020 elections.

“The Democrats in Congress are desperate to talk about anything other than the job growth, wage, and salary increases, and the expanding income and wealth in the United States,” Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, told The Epoch Times.

“So Russia. Collusion. Hearings on anything. The Democrats hope that if they toss enough shiny things in the air, they can distract the American people from the good economy and give them something to talk about other than Trump and the Republican Party’s success.”

Author and policy expert Peter Ferrara says, “It’s all politics.” Democrats are actually investigating the Trump 2020 campaign, not the 2016 campaign, he said.

“It’s revenge for winning. He’s supposed to pay a penalty for winning in 2016. The Democrats refuse to accept the results of the election in 2016 … and when Trump gets re-elected, they’ll refuse to accept those results, too.”

Norquist and Ferrara aren’t alone.

Conservatives interviewed by The Epoch Times say the dizzying array of congressional investigations in the newly Democratic-controlled House of Representatives is abusive and unprecedented for a sitting U.S. president who hasn’t been accused of committing a crime in office.

The various investigations of Trump’s taxes and businesses also are unprecedented, but then again, the country has never had a businessman as successful as Trump in the White House.

These seemingly endless investigations are a distraction that may hinder the president’s ability to lead the nation, at a time when he is dealing with extraordinarily difficult and dangerous subjects such as China, North Korea, and Iran, and effectively constitute an attempt at a coup by politicians who refuse to accept that Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 election, they say.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) on Capitol Hill in Washington on Dec. 20, 2018. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

17 Investigations

The conventional wisdom in the mainstream media is that the flood of Trump investigations is nothing out of the ordinary in the nation’s capital. Some journalists and pundits even claim these probes are good for America, as reflected in the Washington’s Post tagline in the Trump era: “Democracy dies in darkness.”

For example, at the website FiveThirtyEight, Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux argues, “Trump is wrong to say what he’s experiencing is unprecedented.”

Citing a report by political scientists Douglas Kriner and Eric Schickler, she writes that presidential investigations by Congress “are actually the norm when the House is controlled by a different party than the president’s.”

“The number of days spent investigating potential executive misconduct spikes whenever the president and the House’s majority party aren’t the same[,]” she adds.

House Democrats have let loose a raft of Trump investigations.

The Intelligence Committee under Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) is investigating, in Schiff’s words, whether “financial interests or other interests are driving decision-making of the president or anyone in the administration.” Other committees could get involved in the investigation, he said.

The Oversight and Reform Committee is examining security clearance protocols at the White House. Democrats want the security clearance of White House advisor and presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner to be revoked.

The Judiciary Committee under Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) is planning what appears to be an open-ended investigation. Trump’s “conduct and crude statements threaten the basic legal, ethical and constitutional norms that maintain our democratic institutions. Congress has a constitutional duty to be a check and balance against abuses of power when necessary,” Nadler said in a statement.

The Judiciary Committee, as well as the Energy and Commerce Committee, are both investigating the Trump’s administration’s family-separation policy at the border.

House Democrats also want to investigate Trump’s tax returns—if they can get their hands on them.

Hurling unproven allegations against Trump, House Financial Services Committee Chairman Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), said: “We’re gonna get your tax returns. We’re gonna find out where your money has come from, the way that you have cheated the IRS.”

Democrats may invoke a 1924 law that allows any of three congressional committees—including the House Ways and Means Committee—to force the Treasury Department to produce the returns of any individual.

“The law has almost never been used,” according to columnist Byron York. “For the first 50 years of its existence, no one tried to get a president’s returns,” he wrote. Of course, since Gerald Ford, presidents have voluntarily made their returns available, a precedent Trump aims to break.

Wired magazine compiled a list of 17 known investigations that target “President Trump’s world, from various federal, state, and local prosecutors.” There are sources known to be cooperating with investigators in nearly all of these open cases, he wrote. The most high-profile is special counsel Robert Mueller’s long-running investigation.

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) speaks at a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington on Jan. 31, 2017. (Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)

‘Inversion of the Rule of Law’

Conservatives say the investigations in Congress will accomplish little.

“These ridiculous, rambling House investigations will be even more aimless and baseless than the [Robert] Mueller investigation,” said Seton Motley, president of Less Government, a Washington-area nonprofit. “These Democrats remind of Lavrentiy Beria, the head of the Soviet Communist secret police for Joseph Stalin: ‘Show me the man, I’ll show you the crime.’”

Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), is dismissive of the congressional probes. He described the investigations as “distracting recreational activities for legislators who don’t legislate.”

Phil Kerpen, president of American Commitment, an activist group that promotes free markets and constitutionally limited government, said these investigations are politically motivated and are having a corrosive effect on the rule of law.

“I think what we’re seeing is an inversion of the rule of law. Rather than investigating crimes and figuring out who the perpetrators are and holding them accountable, they are pre-identifying perpetrators and then they are searching for any crime that they can use to go after anyone who’s connected to the president,” which ultimately could be the president himself.

The objective of a lot of these investigations is not “to uncover something prosecutable or based in fact, but just to feed the ongoing media hysteria to give them pretexts to run out these stories that they can tout everywhere, and then meekly retract after facts come out and keep people whipped up and keep the high level of agitation going,” he said.

“The Democratic strategy in the Trump era has been to make the president culturally distasteful, culturally out-of-bounds, unacceptable to college-educated white voters so they can run up the margins in the suburbs, and that was extraordinarily successful in the midterm election in 2018.

“Now, the challenge they have is: how do you maintain that level of frenetic anger and outrage for two more years and run it through a presidential [election]. I think that’s going to be difficult to do but that’s certainly the objective that they’re trying to accomplish with these endless investigations,” Kerpen said.