by Julie Kelly
The first contest of the 2020 primary season is one year away and the Democratic Party’s agenda now is coming into sharp focus: An income tax rate upwards of 70 percent, a Green New Deal that would send America back to the Stone Age, postpartum baby-killing, and the elimination of federal control over our southern border are just a few of the lowlights.
Sprinkle that message with a heavy dose of anti-Semitic, anti-Christian, anti-white, anti-male rhetoric and voila! – Democratic presidential contenders are ready to swarm Iowa and New Hampshire.
But another destructive sideshow now animates the Democrats ahead of next year’s elections: The multi-pronged, unprecedented and possibly unconstitutional investigation into President Trump.
To satisfy the bloodlust of the party’s rank-and-file, still bitter about losing the 2016 presidential election and gobsmacked that Trump somehow remains in office, congressional leaders are seeking vengeance in the hearing rooms of Capitol Hill. Since taking the helm of powerful House committees last month, Democratic chairmen are wasting no time in probing every crevice of Trump World; no one, including the president’s family members, will be spared.
Hundreds of New Investigations
The government’s formal investigation into Donald Trump began in July 2016, when Barack Obama’s FBI launched a counterintelligence probe into four Trump campaign aides, allegedly suspected of conspiring with Russians to influence the election. In May 2017, Trump’s own FBI – led temporarily by the disgraced Andrew McCabe after James Comey was fired – opened both a counterintelligence and a criminal case into the president. Days later, the Justice Department appointed Robert Mueller as a special counsel to further investigate any supposed ties between the Kremlin and Donald Trump.
While Team Mueller not only has failed to produce one indictment related to Trump-Russia election collusion but now is facing serious questions about its own integrity and practices, once-hopeful Democrats are starting to realize their dream of Mueller hauling Trump out of the Oval Office in handcuffs may not come true.
Enter Representatives Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Elijah Cummings (D-Md.). They are just a few of the Democrats who will oversee what is expected to be nearly 100 separate investigations into the Trump Administration. Shortly after winning back the House last November, Democrats released a laundry list of potential inquiries, including Trump’s handling of the so-called Muslim travel ban, the government’s response to Hurricane Maria and the president’s 2018 Helsinki summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner also are on the radar of congressional investigators. House leadership wants Trump’s tax returns, a full accounting of every Trump business venture, and a vetting of the goings-on at Mar-a-Lago.
The White House will have to answer questions about its handling of the murder of so-called journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi national who was in fact a propagandist for Qatar. Trump’s attacks on his “fake news” nemeses, including CNN and the Washington Post, also will be probed.
The House will restart the concluded investigation into whether the Trump campaign conspired with the Russians to influence the 2016 election outcome. House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) has hired at least one former Trump White House official – an Obama holdover with a security clearance – to aid his inquest. Schiff seems particularly fixated on taking down Donald Trump, Jr.
The Whitaker Show
Congress fired its opening salvo last week during the House Judiciary Committee’s grilling of acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker. Democrats have attacked Whitaker since the president announced he would replace Jeff Sessions until a permanent attorney general could be nominated and confirmed by the Senate. (Whitaker, a former U.S. Attorney General from Iowa, served as Sessions’ chief of staff.)
The hearing ostensibly was about Justice Department oversight, but in reality, it was the first opportunity for House Democrats publicly to pummel an administration official. In his opening remarks, Nadler blasted Whitaker for not recusing himself from the Mueller probe and promised the committee would get to the bottom of why Trump appointed Whitaker as the interim attorney general – even though Whitaker only served for three months and will be replaced later this week by William Barr, who was confirmed by the Senate Judiciary Committee on February 7.
Committee members repeatedly asked Whitaker to disclose details about any briefings he had with the special counsel’s office, a demand that a stoic Whitaker refused to answer based on legitimate grounds of executive privilege. (He did confirm he has not spoken to the president about the Mueller investigation.)
At one point, Whitaker admonished Nadler that “his five minutes was up,” referring to the chairman exceeding the amount of time allotted to each member for questions. The gallery gasped; Nadler smirked and laughed. It would be the only light moment in the embarrassing four-hour long inquisition marked by angry outbursts, pointless hectoring, and even crying by members of the majority.
“Mister Attorney General, we’re not joking here,” scolded Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas). Pointing at Whitaker with a pocket copy of the Constitution, Lee warned Whitaker that his “humor was not acceptable because we have a constitutional duty to ask questions. So you need to behave appropriately.”
Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.) demanded to know Whitaker’s opinions about the president’s comments following the Charlottesville protests in August 2017. “We are all trying to figure out, who are you, where did you come from, and how the heck did you become the head of the Department of Justice,” Representative Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) shouted at Whitaker. When the acting attorney general attempted to answer, Jeffries cut him off. “That was a statement not a question. I assume you know the difference.”
When Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) essentially ordered Whitaker to tell the president that Robert Mueller is “honest and not conflicted,” Whitaker fought back. “Congressman, I’m not a puppet to repeat what you’re saying.”
Reparations and Other Follies
But an emotional and grandstanding congresswoman from Washington turned in the most shameful performance. Screaming and pointing at the witness, Representative Pramila Jayapal berated Whitaker over the administration’s so-called family separation policy. “Do you know what kind of damage has been done to children and families who across this country, children who will never get to see their parents again?” she shrieked, fighting back tears. “Do you understand the magnitude of that! This is about the children’s future, Mr. Whitaker!”
He calmly explained that most of the policy is handled by the Department of Homeland Security. Jayapal later suggested in an MSNBC interview that U.S. taxpayers should pay “reparations” to the illegal immigrant families who were “separated.”
The president blasted the Democrats’ bad behavior the day after the hearing. “The Democrats in Congress yesterday were vicious and totally showed their cards for everyone to see,” he tweeted on Saturday. “When the Republicans had the Majority they never acted with such hatred and scorn! The Dems are trying to win an election in 2020 that they know they cannot legitimately win!”
But it’s unlikely congressional Democrats will learn any manners, let alone develop any sense of decency, before their next public spectacle. As Whitaker pointed out, committee Democrats were uninterested in any of the issues that most Americans care about, including crime, opioid abuse, religious liberty or free speech on college campuses. The collective tirade on display at the Whitaker hearing had nothing to do with truth or accountability – it was a continuance of the sustained primal scream that began on November 8, 2016 by sore losers who still cannot accept that Hillary Clinton lost. It’s revenge theater.
That’s why it would be wise for the president and the Republican Party to tally up every dollar and every moment spent on these political investigations – and then force Democrats to defend their shameful behavior in 2020.
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Julie Kelly is a senior contributor to American Greatness.