If you needed any further proof that all congressional Republicans are complicit in the litany of crimes perpetrated by the Trump Administration, Axios obtained a spreadsheet “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.”
Like I wrote earlier this year: there are NO good Republicans in American government, and Trump was not the beginning of their descent into lawlessness.
To believe that the Republican Party only became a lawless institution in the age of Trump is to so blatantly ignore history that you either come off as a willing idiot or a useful idiot. I mean, have you heard of Richard Nixon? Hell, one of Dick Cheney’s chief advisers outed a CIA agent for political revenge. And Trump just pardoned him! The GOP respects the law about as much as NFL front offices respect Colin Kaepernick.
Trump is simply the logical conclusion of a party which has deemed itself above the law for the entirety of my 31 year life. Per Axios, here are 15 investigations that the Republicans believe will happen if the Democrats win the House.
1. President Trump’s Tax Returns
Remember these? You know, that thing that every single president releases to reassure the American public that they will not put their own interests ahead of the country’s. Trump has not done that, and if you feel your cynicism taking over to push the perpetually true phrase of “lol nothing matters,” I’ve got two words for you: subpoena power.
2. Potential Emoluments Violations with Trump’s Businesses — Especially in China
Ivanka Trump’s brand received a bunch of Chinese trademarks right around the time her father was making the case to lift sanctions on Chinese tech company/known agent of the Chinese surveillance state, ZTE. Trump was successful in easing sanctions, and Ivanka’s trademark issue is an inescapable part of this story. To recap what she got from China, here is the AP’s report from May (about a week before Trump struck a deal with ZTE):
On Sunday, China granted the first daughter’s company final approval for its 13th trademark in the past three months, trademark office records show. Over the same period, the Chinese government has granted Ivanka Trump’s company provisional approval for another eight trademarks, which can be finalized if no objections are raised during a three-month comment period.
Taken together, the trademarks could allow her brand to market a lifetime’s worth of products in China, from baby blankets to coffins, and a host of things in between, including perfume, make-up, bowls, mirrors, furniture, books, coffee, chocolate and honey. Ivanka Trump stepped back from management of her brand and placed its assets in a family-run trust, but she continues to profit from the business.
3. Trump’s Dealings with Russia — Including Preparation for His Putin Meeting
There is so much here that it’s difficult to wrap your head around. I dove into Trump’s businesses in March 2017, and here is just a sampling of Trump’s shady dealings:
So to recap, Trump’s Toronto financier came up through the ranks a company which was quite literally created by the KGB in order to swim in untraceable cash; was able to obtain a massive loan to buy a freaking yacht from a Kremlin-connected bank holding a significant stake in an investment fund which helped finance Trump’s New York SoHo debacle—one which Trump settled a civil lawsuit filed against him where one of the central provisions was that those helping with the criminal investigation had to stop talking to the feds. Nothing to see here.
4. The Payment to Stormy Daniels
Democrats many not need to launch an independent investigation on this since Trump’s former fixer, Michael Cohen, testified under oath in the Southern District of New York’s investigation that he made the payment to Stormy Daniels (and Karen McDougal) “in coordination with and at the direction of a candidate for federal office.” I wonder who that candidate could be?
5. James Comey’s Firing
Remember when the President of the United States basically admitted to obstruction of justice on live TV?
6. Trump’s Proposed Transgender Ban for the Military
Last July, Trump surprised the Pentagon with three tweets.
After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow…...— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017
....Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming…..— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017
....victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017
Shocking no one except the GOP cultists, the Army's highest-ranking officer said he was not consulted.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley says, while holding a glass of wine, he too found out about Trump's transgender ban through the news pic.twitter.com/MKInvXsIRh— Natalie Johnson (@nataliejohnsonn) July 27, 2017
7. White House Staff's Personal E-mail Use
At least six of President Trump's closest advisers occasionally used private email addresses to discuss White House matters, current and former officials said on Monday.
The disclosures came a day after news surfaced that Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law and adviser, used a private email account to send or receive about 100 work-related emails during the administration's first seven months. But Mr. Kushner was not alone. Stephen K. Bannon, the former chief White House strategist, and Reince Priebus, the former chief of staff, also occasionally used private email addresses. Other advisers, including Gary D. Cohn and Stephen Miller, sent or received at least a few emails on personal accounts, officials said.
Ivanka Trump, the president's elder daughter, who is married to Mr. Kushner, used a private account when she acted as an unpaid adviser in the first months of the administration, Newsweek reported Monday. Administration officials acknowledged that she also occasionally did so when she formally became a White House adviser. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter with reporters.
If the “but her e-mails” crew goes down for using their personal e-mails to conduct official government business, the world will instantly have a scarcity of schadenfreude.
8. Cabinet Secretary Travel, Office Expenses, and Other Misused Perks
We can just call this the Scott Pruitt investigation, as his grift is well-documented by this point. However, there are plenty more low-grade crooks in the Trump administration, like Ben Carson's $31,000 dining table whose purchase he blamed on his wife. This is an investigation with so much evidence of wrongdoing that it could seemingly run until the sun explodes.
9. Discussion of Classified Information at Mar-a-Lago
Shortly after Trump was inaugurated, he turned Mar-a-Lago's ballroom into something of a situation room during North Korea's missile launch, as documented by multiple members on Facebook at the time.
At the beginning of Trump's presidency, it was terrifyingly easy to hack into what is effectively the southern White House. Per ProPublica:
Two weeks ago, on a sparkling spring morning, we went trawling along Florida's coastal waterway. But not for fish.
We parked a 17-foot motor boat in a lagoon about 800 feet from the back lawn of The Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach and pointed a 2-foot wireless antenna that resembled a potato gun toward the club. Within a minute, we spotted three weakly encrypted Wi-Fi networks. We could have hacked them in less than five minutes, but we refrained.
A few days later, we drove through the grounds of the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, with the same antenna and aimed it at the clubhouse. We identified two open Wi-Fi networks that anyone could join without a password. We resisted the temptation.
10. Jared Kushner's Ethics Law Compliance
Jared Kushner has gone back to revise his application for a security clearance multiple times, as he has left off a litany of business interests. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a complaint against Kushner with the Office of Government Ethics, and one of the complaints is pretty damning:
Mr. Kushner co-founded Cadre and continues to own a significant part of it. In his public financial disclosure statement, however, Mr. Kushner failed to disclose the ownership interest.
This is likely just the tip of the iceberg, because if you're leaving off a company that you co-founded on your clearance form, there must be other lesser businesses interests that weren't declared either. Either that, or Jared Kushner is the dumbest human alive, which we know is not the case, because Trump.
11. The Travel Ban
This was one of Trump's first acts in office, and according to The Atlantic's McKay Coppins, the chaos which ensued was by design:
One of [Stephen Miller's] first acts on the job was to work with then-chief strategist Steve Bannon in crafting an executive order that banned travel to the United States from seven majority-Muslim countries. The hastily written order contained no guidance on implementation, and soon after Trump signed it—on a Friday afternoon one week into his presidency—airports across the country were plunged into chaos. Hundreds of travelers were detained, civil-rights lawyers descended, and protesters swarmed. To many, the televised disarray was proof of failure. But according to Michael Wolff's account of the Trump administration's first year, Fire and Fury, the architects of the ban were tickled by the hysteria; Bannon (who was Wolff's main source) boasted that they'd chosen to enact the disruptive measure on a weekend “so the snowflakes would show up at the airports and riot.” They counted the anger on display as a political win.
Also, multiple judges have cited Trump's own bigoted words as reasons to strike down the travel ban, and because the man was born not to listen to lawyers, of course he has continued to harm his own argument in favor of pushing out some amorphous kind of machismo.
That's right, we need a TRAVEL BAN for certain DANGEROUS countries, not some politically correct term that won't help us protect our people!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 6, 2017
12. Family Separation Policy
This should be the first thing Democrats investigate if they take back the House. This is a war crime.
Since the middle of July, a group of twenty government officials has been gathering each week at the headquarters of Customs and Border Protection to discuss what the Trump Administration should do in the aftermath of the failed zero-tolerance policy. 2/— Jonathan Blitzer (@JonathanBlitzer) August 22, 2018
Did the outcry over family separation surprise the Administration? Yes, official said. “The expectation was that the kids would go to Office of Refugee Resettlement, that the parents would get deported, & that no one would care.” end/— Jonathan Blitzer (@JonathanBlitzer) August 22, 2018
Administration officials are on record effectively characterizing this policy as kidnapping, and the emotional trauma caused by separating kids from their parents is the feature of the policy. These are sick individuals who belong behind bars until the end of time. The world will be watching the Democrats if they retake the House, and if they do not take this investigation seriously, then history will remember them as being complicit in these war crimes too.
13. Hurricane Response in Puerto Rico
Not only did the administration seemingly ignore the plight of millions of American citizens after sending out plenty of help to aid hurricane-ravaged areas of Houston and south Florida, but according to a letter to federal officials written by dozens of advocacy groups, non-profits, and members of the community, the $1.5 billion earmarked to rebuild Puerto Rico was assembled without those whose lives have been torn apart in mind. Per the letter sent to HUD Secretary Ben Carson and Secretary of Departmento da la Vivienda, Fernando Gil Enseñat:
Not only was the notice for these hearings inadequate but the participation consisted of mostly municipalities and government agencies. Many of the proposals presented by these public officials include the displacement of historically vulnerable communities who have been unable to access any information around the Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery Program process or the projected plans.
14. White House Security Clearances
Trump has revoked former CIA Director John Brennan’s security clearance in a clearly politically motivated attack, and has compiled a list of former military officials who he wants to befall the same fate. The man who orchestrated the Osama bin Laden raid, Adm. William H. McRaven, penned an extraordinary op-ed daring Trump to revoke his clearance too, writing “I would consider it an honor if you would revoke my security clearance as well, so I can add my name to the list of men and women who have spoken up against your presidency.”
15. Election Security and Hacking Attempts
Russia attacked the 2016 election, and they have continued their attacks into 2018. Any sane country would pass election security laws to address the flaws in the system, but this is America. Sanity is not on the menu here. The Republican President benefited from Russian meddling, and now the Secure Elections Act (introduced by Republican James Lankford) is being held up in the Senate at the behest of the White House. Under normal circumstances, even putting those two suggestive sentences next to each other would be irresponsible hyperbole, but we have yet to figure out why President Trump is so deferential to Vladimir Putin, and each day without an answer pushes Occam’s Razor closer to what it looks like: Trump wants Russia’s help again.
If you still feel the cynicism overtaking your mind, know that some Senate Democrats have already come out in favor of these investigations. Democrats are smart to focus their energy on health care in November’s elections, but they need to introduce a platform of accountability as well. Don’t lazily run on the Trump scandals—tell voters that if you want to hold Trump accountable for his actions (or inaction), to vote Democrat this November. Congress was created as a check on the presidency, and this Republican-created list is proof that they have no intention of doing their constitutionally-mandated job. There is only one party who will enforce the rules of democracy, and it’s not the cult who’s too cowardly to stand up Dear GOP Leader. Make sure you’re registered to vote, and then vote, damnit. Our democracy depends on it.
Jacob Weindling is a staff writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.