‘Investigations – My Plan to Counter’: A Trump Ally's Secret Plan to Fight House Democrats
(Bloomberg) -- A top U.S. House ally of President Donald Trump drafted a "confidential" plan for how Republicans can battle an expected onslaught of Democratic-led congressional subpoenas and investigations against the president and his administration.
"Investigations -- My Plan to Counter" is one of the featured topics contained in a 28-page document prepared by Representative Mark Meadows of North Carolina, each page bearing a "confidential" watermark.
Up until Thursday night, Meadows was considered likely to become the ranking Republican on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, a key congressional investigative panel. But then a conservative colleague, Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, said Meadows had bowed out and he was talking to the GOP steering committee about taking the post himself.
"Meadows decided to withdraw on his own," said steering committee member John Carter of Texas, adding that the committee had chosen someone else. Meadows later confirmed that Jordan would be getting the job.
The committee will be run by Democrats starting in January after their party won a House majority in Nov. 6 elections, giving the panel a leading role in investigating the Trump administration and the president’s private business dealings.
The document, obtained by Bloomberg News, provides an unusually candid look at how Republicans may attempt to counter plans by Democrats for an aggressive push to highlight what they see as failures and wrongdoing by the administration in advance of the 2020 elections.
In the opening page, Meadows writes he is "confident that with the right team and member engagement, our conference will be able to tactically play the Democrats’ politicized activities to our advantage." He adds, "I believe I can position the committee as an effective platform to win back the House."
Meadows is the current chairman of the Oversight subcommittee on government operations and also chairman of the conservative Freedom Caucus. His office wouldn’t comment on the document, which was prepared for colleagues.
Incoming Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Elijah Cummings of Maryland and other Democrats have said there are dozens of investigative avenues they want to explore that the current Republican majority has blocked.
The document lists three areas Meadows plans to attack Democrats’ moves on subpoenas and investigations:
- Describe the Democrats’ subpoenas as unreasonable, overly broad, onerous and designed to embarrass Trump. The document calls for “encouraging less-severe means of conducting investigations, like briefings, bipartisan letters, etc.”
- Argue that Democrats’ investigations raise concern over separation of powers. He wrote that he’d assert that “the Democrats are interfering too much with presidential duties and have encroached too far on the fundamental powers of the executive branch.”
- Create a GOP task force. Meadows said the expected overlap of Oversight, Judiciary and Intelligence Committee investigations by Democrats calls out for an informal Republican task force made up of members of those panels and party leaders, "for purposes of information sharing and strategy."
Even as he outlined the plan to go on the offensive against Democrats, Meadows promoted himself as having good working relationships with Cummings of Maryland and another top panel Democrat, Gerald Connolly of Virginia.
The document lists "anticipated Democratic activity," derived from what it says is a list kept by Meadows’s office of the 64 subpoena requests denied to Democrats during GOP control. The list includes: Democratic efforts to obtain administration documents on the separation of migrant children from their undocumented parents at the Mexican border; the White House withholding documents on personal email used by top aides; and alleged conflicts of interest by Trump family members.
The Meadows document also argues that the committee’s minority staff structure needs to be changed to better engage in battle. It emphasizes the need to add more lawyers -- to go beyond one minority general counsel -- and instead "create a General Counsel’s office to ensure we are best suited to take on the volume and nature of the challenges Democrats will present."
"We will need a larger team of experienced investigators who will be able to handle the heavy volume and intellectual challenges presented by the Democrats’ attacks," according to the document.
Meadows’s plan also calls for a larger communications team "to counter the aggressive messaging the Democrats will launch” against Trump and Republicans. "I plan on developing a communications team dedicated enough and talented enough to engage in reactionary, defensive messaging on a daily basis," according to the document.
Meadows wrote that Republicans would have a consistent message: "Americans want their Congress to get things done and focus on their agenda -- not on endless, frivolous, and partisan investigations."
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