From ignoring congressional subpoenas to refusing to hand over critical documents, Trump is flouting the Constitution's principle of checks and balances.
Trump is working to obstruct, deny, and delay 20 separate congressional investigations into his crimes and policy failures — the most far-reaching obstruction efforts from a president in decades, experts told the Washington Post on Saturday.
The criticism is bipartisan. Kerry W. Kircher, House counsel for the most recent GOP majority, told the Post that Trump's relentless efforts to stymie Congress represent "a complete breakdown and complete obstruction of Congress's role."
Last week, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin flouted federal law by refusing to hand Trump's taxes over to Congress. Also last week, Trump retroactively invoked executive privilege over the Mueller report even after a redacted version of it had been made public. Trump once falsely proclaimed the report exonerated him, but it actually contains extensive evidence that Trump criminally obstructed justice.
Trump is also going to court to try to stop Congress from obtaining 10 years of financial records from Mazars, Trump's accounting firm.
In addition to blocking investigations into his crimes, Trump is also hiding information about his policy failures, such as his incompetent response to the hurricanes that ravaged Puerto Rico.
House Democrats note Trump and his team have refused to fully cooperate with 79 requests for documents or information.
Congressional leaders say Trump's absolute refusal to work within the bounds of custom, tradition, and law is unacceptable.
"We are now in a constitutional crisis," Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), chair of the House Judiciary Committee, said last week. "This is whether we can put limits on the power of the president — any president — and the executive branch, and hold the president — any president — accountable. That's what is at stake here. We cannot flinch and we will not flinch."
Congress is threatening an array of punishments for Trump officials who choose to obey Trump's orders to defy Congress's legitimate oversight authority.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), chair of the Intelligence Committee, floated the idea of issuing fines to Trump officials who refuse to comply with subpoenas.
"You could fine someone $25,000 a day until they comply. You can do that. We're looking through the history and studying the law to make sure we're on solid ground," Schiff said Friday.
Other Democrats have suggested jail time if officials continue refusing to comply with Congress.
"These are perfectly legitimate oversight functions," former Republican congressman Tom Campbell told the Post. "No system works — even one as brilliantly constructed as the United States Constitution — works without good faith. ... When good faith falls apart, the ability for the Constitution to work is compromised."
Democrats in Congress are seeking to perform their constitutionally mandated oversight duties — but Trump, his officials, and his Republican allies in Congress are all acting in bad faith to try to stop them.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.