Aug 26, 2018

Scoop: Republicans secretly study their coming hell

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Congressional Republicans are getting ready for hell. Axios has obtained a spreadsheet that's circulated through Republican circles on and off Capitol Hill — including at least one leadership office — that meticulously previews the investigations Democrats will likely launch if they flip the House.

Why this matters: Publicly, House Republicans are putting on a brave face about the midterms. But privately, they are scrambling to prepare for the worst. This document, which catalogs requests Democrats have already made, is part of that effort.

It has churned Republican stomachs. Here are some of the probes it predicts:

  • President Trump’s tax returns
  • Trump family businesses — and whether they comply with the Constitution's emoluments clause, including the Chinese trademark grant to the Trump Organization
  • Trump's dealings with Russia, including the president's preparation for his meeting with Vladimir Putin
  • The payment to Stephanie Clifford — a.k.a. Stormy Daniels
  • James Comey's firing
  • Trump's firing of U.S. attorneys
  • Trump's proposed transgender ban for the military
  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin's business dealings
  • White House staff's personal email use
  • Cabinet secretary travel, office expenses, and other misused perks
  • Discussion of classified information at Mar-a-Lago
  • Jared Kushner's ethics law compliance
  • Dismissal of members of the EPA board of scientific counselors
  • The travel ban
  • Family separation policy
  • Hurricane response in Puerto Rico
  • Election security and hacking attempts
  • White House security clearances

The spreadsheet — which I'm told originated in a senior House Republican office — catalogs more than 100 formal requests from House Democrats this Congress, spanning nearly every committee.

  • The spreadsheet includes requests for administration officials to be grilled by committee staff, requests for hearings to obtain sworn testimony, efforts to seize communications about controversial policies and personnel decisions, and subpoena threats.
  • These demands would turn the Trump White House into a 24/7 legal defense operation.

The bottom line: Thanks to their control of Congress, Republicans have blocked most of the Democrats’ investigative requests. But if the House flips, the GOP loses its power to stymie. Lawyers close to the White House tell me the Trump administration is nowhere near prepared for the investigatory onslaught that awaits them, and they consider it among the greatest threats to his presidency.

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