For only the second time since the Great Depression, the Republican Party will hold complete control of the federal government. So that means that Donald Trump can simply bully Congress into joining his efforts to “make America great again,” right? Well, not if a couple of prominent Republican lawmakers have anything to say about it. Quite the contrary–they think Congress must maintain aggressive oversight of the Trump White House.
On Tuesday, Senator Tom Cotton invited several of his most generous donors to a gathering at Hillsdale College’s Kirby Center. During the morning session, one of the keynote speakers, Congressman Trey Gowdy, delivered what can only be described as a veiled warning to Trump–expect to be held to account, and often.
Gowdy said that, in his view, Congress was now “without question the weakest of the three branches,” in part because “we’ve allowed that to happen.” The South Carolina Republican believed that when the White House is controlled by one party and Congress is controlled by the other, any congressional probe into Administration or executive branch activities is bound to be “politicized.” When the same party controls both the executive and legislative branches, however, it results in more of a “constitutional analysis.” For that reason, he believed the House has “the duty to provide oversight,” even if the White House is controlled by the same party that controls Congress.
Cotton nodded in agreement, saying that Congress had a chance to “claw back some of that constitutional authority.” The Arkansas Republican promised that Trump would not be able to bully the Senate into going along with himthere would be “robust and serious oversight” of a Trump White House.
These aren’t just a couple of RINOs talking. These are two guys who can only be described as tea partiers from central casting. Gowdy has a lifetime American Conservative Union rating of 97, and is best known for being the leader of the “what about Benghaaazi?” witch hunt in the House–an enterprise he continued even after admitting that there was no way any troops in the area could have arrived in time to stop the attack. As for Cotton, he’s best known as “Tehran Tom,” the author of the now-infamous letter to Iran’s leaders casting doubt about the White House’s ability to make a nuclear deal without congressional approval. He has a lifetime ACU rating of 96.
Okay, Trey and Tom. We’re with you. We want Trump to be held to account. We don’t want a repeat of the 109th Congress, which voted with George W. Bush over 90 percent of the time. Nobody’s right that often. Apparently Trump thinks he’s right at least that much–after all, he thinks that he alone can fix it.
But how far are you going to go, gentlemen? After all, Trump has so far shown no real intention to resolve his stratospheric conflicts of interest, even though many of his foreign interests blatantly violate the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution. He has also shown a staggering disregard for free speech, as evidenced by his call for people to be punished for flag burning.
Put your money where your mouths are, Trey and Tom. If Trump thinks he can bully you, prove him wrong and stand up to him. And if he goes too far over the line, Trey, are you willing to impeach him? And are you willing to vote to remove him, Tom? You’ll have to pardon our skepticism. But considering that we were told it was unpatriotic to oppose Bush, we have to hope that you don’t say the same thing to us about Trump.