The Democrats won back the House in the midterms. Ferk. Not unexpected, but still, ferk. It’s not the end of the world, though. The left has to govern- and they’re not used to that.
I’ve seen a bunch of articles that have mused how the left, emboldened by retaking the House of Representatives, will issue many legal challenges to the Trump administration. They will try to get as many political scalps as possible- far more than we’ve seen since Trump took office, and it will isolate Trump. They’ll try to impeach Trump, make his life miserable in the Oval Office, and reduce the power of his Cabinet.
Nothing could be further from the truth. The Democrats won the House, but let’s be honest here- they cannot overcome the GOP in the Senate and Trump is also a GOP President. There aren’t enough Nevertrumpers in the House/Senate to tip anything to them.
The Democrats are also completely disorganized with at least three factions within their (probable) caucus: Pelosi’s Dems, the Bernie far-left, and the centrist Democrats. The center-left Dems will be enticed to make political deals whenever possible, and they’ll want to get stuff done (they literally campaigned on that promise). If they go to the “investigate 24/7 into everything Trumpian, including Trump’s toupee and Melania’s shoes” route, the Dems won’t get anything done except piss off Congress and much of the voting public. And the Democrats need to actually show that they can govern, not act like a far-left university campus.
Throwing red meat at the far-left sounds good, but since the Senate is GOP, Trump can simply say “no” over and over again and nothing will get done. Anyone remember Ted Cruz’s government shutdown? Yes, Obama turned it into a farce, but there was no need to have a shutdown in the first place. It was a political miscalculation on Cruz’s behalf and it helped cost him the Presidency in 2016 and probably made Beto somewhat viable in Texas in 2018. At the end of the day, shutting down the gov’t benefits Trump and only underscores how weak the Democrats actually are in the government.
There really hasn’t been many areas where the left would investigate. Sure, they can complain about the President’s strategy and his actions, but that’s not the same thing as a scandal. Want to fight his immigration policy? Keep shopping for 9th Circuit judges to reflexively overrule Trump (which isn’t really constitutional, but whatever). What will the left say about US/Saudi relations after the Kashoggi incident- the Dems will try to sue Trump for having normalized relations with Riyadh? That’s not how it works. Ultimately the Dems have policy disagreements with Trump, and these do not rise to the level of scandals. Turning them into scandals doesn’t make the Dems look good- it makes them look like sore losers
It looks like Mueller’s investigation is done, and there’s no there-there. Bob Woodward recently announced that he couldn’t find anything against Trump. And individual Cabinet members are always replaceable in Trumpworld- does anyone remember Rex Tillerson as SecState?
I should also point out that eventually Trump will drop the hammer on Spygate- reveal the evidence that the Obama administration illegally spied on his campaign and transitional team in 2015-2017. That, more than anything else, will roil Congress for the next few years. And depending on how bad the evidence is (let’s say Obama and Hillary are directly implicated) it might politically reverberate for a decade. I can’t begin to calculate how the Dems will handle the fallout from Spygate, except to say that they will probably not take it well.
The bottom line is that the Dems have to tread carefully- they will want to rebuke Trump but at the same time not overdo it to the point of caricature. Throwing up countless legal and administrative hurdles for Trump to clear will make it impossible for the Dems to do anything in Congress. It won’t make them look good to the center in 2020, and it will piss the GOP and Trump off even more. Dems will do what they can to embarrass Trump- and vice versa- but if the Dems go overboard they’ll get hammered for it.
So, will the Democrats investigate Trump? Yes, they will. But it will be tempered with the reality that Trump is still President, has the Senate on his side, and the Nevertrumpers (and not the GOP or the Dems)lost the election. The fallout from recklessly flinging red meat at Trump will entirely fall on the Democrats’ own party. This is why Pelosi is already backtracking from impeachment and investigation talk. If the Democrats are smart, they’ll put up a few dog and pony shows just for the sake of political theatre, and expect nothing to come out of it.