Trump's promise to resist oversight by Congress sets up clash that could last years

Noah Bierman and Chris Megerian, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Political News

WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump vowed Wednesday to fight a host of congressional efforts to scrutinize his conduct, business and policies, opening the path toward a constitutional clash that could last for the rest of his term or longer.

"We're fighting all the subpoenas," Trump told reporters, ascribing partisan motives to Democrats who control the House of Representatives and are eager to retake the White House in 2020.

"The only way they can luck out is by constantly going after me on nonsense," he said.

The strategy fits Trump's instincts to escalate fights, blow up precedent and push the limits of his authority. But it also strikes a contrast with his posture early in his term, when the White House quickly dispatched records and instructed staff to cooperate with special counsel Robert S. Mueller's Russia investigation.

Trump's second thoughts about submitting to outside scrutiny appeared to grow as Mueller's investigation continued, highlighted by his decision to refuse a sit-down interview with prosecutors or give complete answers to written questions.

Trump has been furious that the end of Mueller's inquiry has not quieted concerns about his conduct, and he is showing himself ever more determined to assert his authority -- even authority he may not have -- to shut down efforts that could lead to his impeachment in the House, a step Democrats are openly debating.


He tweeted Wednesday that "if the partisan Dems ever tried to Impeach, I would first head to the U.S. Supreme Court." The tweet seemed more emotional than tactical, since justices do not have authority under the Constitution to supersede Congress if it impeaches a president.

The court is more likely to weigh in if Trump continues to defy subpoenas issued to current and former administration officials. Presidents often clash with lawmakers from the opposing party who attempt to conduct oversight. But the sheer volume of investigations directed at Trump, combined with the aggressive nature of his resistance, could create a particularly combustible atmosphere.

"The president directing executive branch personnel simply to ignore oversight requests is remarkable," said Elliott Williams, who previously worked in legislative affairs at the Justice Department and as a lawyer for the Senate Judiciary Committee. "We didn't even see that with Richard Nixon, and that's saying a lot."

In addition to probing the findings of Mueller's report and demanding an un-redacted version of it, House Democrats are seeking Trump's taxes, information on his business dealings, and testimony about the process for granting security clearances to officials including Jared Kushner, his son-in-law and senior adviser, over the objections of career staff.


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