Jul 8, 2018 - Politics & Policy

Midterm payback: How Democrats will torment Trump

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

At the end of last week, one of Washington’s most battle-hardened and sought-after lawyers forecast an ominous future for the Trump administration. We thought the lawyer's analysis was worth reproducing in full as it echoes what we're hearing from other attorneys in close touch with Trump's White House.

The big picture: "The Pruitt situation should be a warning sign to the administration about what will happen if the Democrats take the House."

Between the lines: "Pruitt’s ultimate downfall came from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee agreeing on a bipartisan basis to summon his staffers in for transcribed interviews. The Pruitt 'team' fell apart when he could no longer protect them and they had to hire their own lawyers, turn over documents and answer questions under penalty of perjury."

  • "Self-preservation kicked in and they spilled the beans. That is what happened on a bipartisan basis where Democrats were constrained."

What's next: "Imagine a world where the constraints are gone and every agency is fair game. That is what may be coming and it will completely immobilize the Administration’s immigration agenda and deregulatory agenda. And the smart aides will leave quickly rather than subject themselves to potentially ruinous legal bills."

  • Yes, it's probably true that Pruitt is a bad example. Or at least not a model case of what's to come. He brought this on himself, flagrantly abused his office, and gave investigators from both parties a ton of material to work with. Even some of his closest allies ended up turning against him and telling us that his narcissism and petty corruption got way out of control.

But the principle remains: Another top Washington lawyer pointed out that this cycle is entirely predictable, and repeats itself over and over when one chamber is taken over by the opposition party.  

  • "It will be even worse than in prior presidencies because the intensity of the mutual animosity is so great that the House will do everything in its power to destroy the Trump administration with investigations and attacks," the source predicted.  

The bottom line: This second lawyer, who is familiar with the inner workings of the Trump White House, told us there is "no way" that this "disorganized and dysfunctional bunch" is adequately prepared for the inevitable legal and investigatory onslaught should Democrats win the House in November.

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