Thursday, February 7, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He felt attacked.

Trump once again spent the day's "executive time" on Twitter, complaining about "Unlimited Presidential Harassment," by which he meant the various investigations into him and his businesses. He seems (not without reason) especially concerned about the revived House Intelligence Committee investigation, which is no longer chaired by his close political ally Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA). 

In one tweet, he insisted that "Republicans never did this to President Obama, there would be no time left to run government."

This is, to some extent, true. President Obama did not have a private business other than his book royalties, so there were no concerns that his business connections could be used to buy influence over him in violation of the emoluments clause. Since there was no such business, it could not have violated campaign finance law by illegally funneling hush money to the porn-star mistresses Obama didn't have. Nor could it have been suspected of helping launder money for Russian oligarchs and drug cartels. Also, his tax returns were made public every year, so there was nothing to investigate in terms of what entities he might have owed money to.

By a similar token, the only "investigation" into the possibility of secret ties that Obama had to foreign governments was the one (supposedly) launched by Trump himself into whether Obama had in fact been born in the United States. It's not clear that the "investigators" Trump said he had dispatched to Hawaii actually existed or did any work, but in the end even Trump acknowledged that the "birther" conspiracy theory was wrong.

It's also fair for Trump to say that President Obama was not suspected—even by the Republican-controlled Congress that spend thousands of committee-hours investigating other aspects of his administration—of having collaborated with hostile foreign countries to sabotage the 2008 or 2012 election.

Obama operates a charitable foundation that has not admitted to illegal "self-dealing" or allowing itself to be used to further Trump's political ambitions. Neither were his inaugural committees accused of being slush funds, or any super-PACs associated with him of illegally accepting foreign donations, so no investigations were done there either.

Why should I care about this?

  • Suspected criminals don't get a pass just because they feel "harassed."
  • Presidents don't get to opt out of Congressional oversight.