- Toya Sarno Jordan/Getty Images
- Nancy Pelosi, who is set to become the Speaker of the House, gave a victory speech on Tuesday night that foreshadowed how her party can now target President Donald Trump’s most tightly held secrets.
- House Democrats can now sue for Trump’s tax records, information on the Russia probe.
- They can also ask for in-person testimonies on things like the Trump administration’s ties to Saudi Arabia, and any possible interference with the Justice Department.
- Pelosi has said Trump’s unreleased tax returns will be her first target.
- Trump has already threatened to open investigations into the Democrats in retaliation if they go forward with subpoenas.
Nancy Pelosi, the California Congresswoman set to become the Speaker of the House, gave a victory speech on Tuesday night that foreshadowed how her party may now target President Donald Trump’s most tightly held secrets.
Pelosi declared the election was about “restoring the Constitution’s checks and balances to the Trump administration” after it became clear her party had seized back a majority in the House of Representatives from the formerly Republican-dominated government.
With Democrats wielding the majority in the House, they can now vote down any proposed legislation from the Trump administration and keep GOP-written bills from getting a vote on the Senate floor.
But the Democrats will also gain the power to subpoena the Trump administration to gain access to some of the president’s most tightly held secrets. House committees, which will now be controlled by Democrats, can now subpoena people and businesses for documents or summon them to testify.
“Subpoena power is interesting, to use it or not to use it,” Pelosi said at a conference in October, Fox News notes. “It is a great arrow to have in your quiver in terms of negotiating on other subjects.”
In an October interview with The San Francisco Chronicle, Pelosi made it clear that Trump personally would be her first target.
Suing for Trump’s tax returns, which he did not release during the 2016 election, “is one of the first things we’d do – that’s the easiest thing in the world. That’s nothing,” Pelosi told the Chronicle.
While Republicans held the house, they regularly voted down attempts to unearth Trump’s tax records.
“In stark contrast to the GOP Congress,” Pelosi said Tuesday, “a Democratic Congress will be led with transparency and openness. So that the public can see what’s happening and how it affects them and that they can weigh in with the members of Congress and with the President of the United States.”
Trump will have the opportunity to mount a defense in the proceedings, but his White House legal counsel may be stretched thin with Don McGahn set to leave and McGahn’s replacement, Pat Cipollone, set to take on the Russia probe.
On Wednesday morning after the dust settled on Trump’s midterm losses, he was already on Twitter hitting back at the idea of Democrats opening up investigations: “If the Democrats think they are going to waste Taxpayer Money investigating us at the House level, then we will likewise be forced to consider investigating them for all of the leaks of Classified Information, and much else, at the Senate level. Two can play that game!”
Tax returns are just the start
- REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
The tax returns represent only one application of the new power afforded to Democrats.
Now they can drill into the Russia investigation, possible ethical wrongdoing by Trump, his organization, or his officials, possible interference with the Justice Department, or even Trump’s ties to and policy on Saudi Arabia in the light of the Jamal Khashoggi killing.
But generally, Pelosi reiterated her pre-election statements that her party would, where possible, try to work with Trump and the Republicans. She said again that she would not immediately seek to impeach the president.
“A Democratic Congress will work for solutions that bring us together because we have all had enough of division,” said Pelosi.