Now in Charge, House Democrats Vow Oversight, Not Overreach, on Trump

(Bloomberg) -- Democratic lawmakers, set to take control of the U.S. House for the first time since 2010, said they’d be reluctant to seek the impeachment of Donald Trump or issue blanket subpoenas to the Trump administration, as some of the party’s activists are demanding.

While the Republican Party controlled both arms of Congress during Trump’s first two years in office, Democrats are set to take control of the House in January after capturing a majority of seats during the Nov. 6 mid-term elections.

That means Democrats will head key House committees come the new year, permitting them to demand testimony and documents from administration officials.

Key House Democrats made the rounds of Sunday’s political talk shows, including Jerrold Nadler of New York, who’s expected to lead the Judiciary Committee, Adam Schiff of California, who’s likely to lead the Intelligence Committee, and Elijah Cummings of Maryland, who’s expected to run the Oversight Committee.

Now in Charge, House Democrats Vow Oversight, Not Overreach, on Trump

Nadler said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that protecting the integrity of Robert Mueller’s probe into the 2016 election, and possible involvement by members of Trump’s campaign, was the most important among many priorities.

‘Reluctant’ on Impeachment

Nadler said he’s not prepared to say the president has obstructed justice in his conduct toward the Russian probe but “there’s a lot of evidence to that effect” that will be investigated now that Democrats have power.

Still, while Nadler told CNN that impeachment proceedings against Trump “will come up down the road, maybe,” he said on ABC he’d be “reluctant” unless allegations of wrongdoing “rise to the gravity which would necessitate putting the country through the trauma on an impeachment process.”

Now in Charge, House Democrats Vow Oversight, Not Overreach, on Trump

Also on CNN, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer sidestepped a question of whether Democrats should pursue impeachment.

Schiff said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that House Democratic leaders will have to work to make sure investigations don’t cloud other legislative priorities, but “we are going to need to ruthlessly prioritize on the Intel Committee which investigative threads we go down.”

Halloween Candy

Trump warned at a news conference Nov. 7 of a “war-like posture” if the Democratic House opens new investigations. Cummings said Sunday that he’s not going to war with the Trump administration, and plans to use subpoena power as a “method of last resort.”

“I’m not going to be handing out subpoenas like somebody’s handing out candy on Halloween,” Cummings said on ABC. “If I have to use them, they will be used in a methodical way and it must be in the public’s interest.”

Cummings said he’ll seek to hold Trump accountable, and among the areas the committee might pursue are questions of whether Trump is violating the Constitution’s emoluments clauses to enrich himself, controversy over a new FBI headquarters in Washington, and perhaps the president targeting Amazon.com, whose founder Jeff Bezos also owns the Washington Post newspaper, and CNN, by way of the AT&T Inc. merger with Time Warner. The release of Trump’s tax returns could be another Democratic target.

House Democrats also plan to probe Trump’s involvement in hush payments arranged during the 2016 campaign to two women alleging affairs, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing an Democratic aide it didn’t identify on the House Oversight Committee.

Democrats have already signaled they’ll challenge Trump on policy issues ranging from climate change to Wall Street regulation.

Nancy Pelosi, set to regain her title as House Speaker, said last week that Democrats will seek to find “common ground” with Trump where possible but will also exercise the party’s newfound “constitutional responsibility to have oversight.”

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