Democrats’ House majority spells trouble for Trump...
WASHINGTON President Donald Trump’s life may get a lot tougher now that Democrats have won a majority in the US House of Representatives.
Using their control of House committees, a small group of lawmakers can demand to see Mr Trump’s long-hidden tax returns, probe possible conflicts of interest from his business empire, and dig into any evidence of collusion between Russia and Mr Trump’s campaign team in the 2016 election.
Representative Elijah Cummings, who is expected to take over the House Oversight Committee, has said Republican lawmakers will no longer be able to protect Mr Trump.
“The most important thing for the Oversight Committee to do is to get back to regular order by obtaining documents and interviewing witnesses, and actually holding the Trump administration accountable to the American people,” Mr Cummings told Reuters.
He plans to examine whether Mr Trump’s business interests – including a downtown Washington hotel – violate the emoluments clause of the Constitution, which makes it illegal for public officials to receive foreign gifts without the consent of Congress.
Mr Cummings is also expected to look at ethics scandals involving administration officials and the policy of separating immigrant children from their families along the border with Mexico.
He is one of three Democrats who have clashed with Mr Trump and will take over committees that will pressure his White House when the new Congress takes office in January.
The others are Mr Jerrold Nadler, who will almost certainly head the House Judiciary Committee and Mr Adam Schiff of the Intelligence Committee.
Control of the committees – where they are the highest-ranking Democrats – will give them the power to demand documents and testimony from White House officials and key figures in Mr Trump’s campaign team and businesses, and to issue subpoenas if needed.
They will also have more money and staff for investigations that could delay or derail Mr Trump’s agenda.
“(Trump) will deny six ways to Sunday that anything’s going to change, but the reality is that his world’s turned upside down,” said Mr Jim Manley, a Democratic strategist.
A first salvo is expected to come from Representative Richard Neal, the likely Democratic chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.
He has vowed to demand Mr Trump’s tax returns from the Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
This could spark a cascade of probes into disclosures the documents might hold.
Mr Schiff said his committee would look at allegations that Russian money may have been laundered though Mr Trump’s businesses and that Moscow might have financial leverage over the president.
Mr Nadler’s panel would deal with any effort to impeach Mr Trump, depending on the outcome of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 US elections and possible Trump campaign collusion with Moscow.
The three congressmen expect to seek bipartisan cooperation to avoid the appearance of partisanship ahead of the 2020 presidential election.
(From left) Congressmen Elijah Cummings, Jerrold Nadler and Adam Schiff.