Monday Wednesday Morning Quarterbacking: The 2018 Midterm Elections
[Editor’s Note: The views expressed here are solely those of Ross Kaplan, and do not represent Edina Realty, Berkshire Hathaway (“Berkshire”), or any other entity referenced. Edina Realty is a subsidiary of Berkshire.]
“(Chief Justice) John Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it!”
–President Andrew Jackson.
Democrats exulting in their new-found House majority — and with it, Congressional subpoena power — should pause to think about the exact scope of those powers.
Specifically, they should weigh these two questions: 1) “Exactly what is off-limits from Congressional subpoena?” (can you say, “legally privileged?”); and 2) “Who ultimately gets to decide those boundaries?”
Premature Democratic Optimism
At least if the President in question is Donald Trump, the predictable answers are: 1) “everything”; and 2) “a Republican Supreme Court.”
By going down the investigation/subpoena path, Democrats risk, on the one hand, looking neutered if (when) Trump inevitably stiffs them, and they’re powerless to do anything about it.
On the other hand, they risk being perceived by the majority of the electorate as overreaching, ala the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings.
Instead of engaging in legal skirmishing the next two years, Democrats would be wise to focus their energy on voter turnout, party organization, and generally exploiting their significant (and growing) demographic advantage in many states.
Flexing (Political) Muscle
That said, it would be a shame for House Democrats not to flex their new-found political muscle just a little bit.
My suggestion for their first legislative item?
Fast-tracking thru committee, then immediately putting to a floor vote, a bill that requires Presidents — and Presidential aspirants — to disclose their tax returns.
Of course, the Republican-held Senate will kill it. But first, Republican leaders should be required to state, on the record, exactly why that’s a bad idea.
They should also remember that day #1 of the 2020 election . . . is today.