No matter who wins the White House on Tuesday, the next president is likely to enter office under the threat of investigation by the rival party.
Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonMcCabe wins back full FBI pension after being fired under Trump Bill Clinton hospitalized with sepsis We have a presidential leadership crisis — and it's only going to get worse MORE and Donald TrumpDonald TrumpMcCabe wins back full FBI pension after being fired under Trump Biden's Supreme Court reform study panel notes 'considerable' risks to court expansion Bennie Thompson not ruling out subpoenaing Trump MORE are both deeply polarizing figures unlikely to enjoy a period of goodwill from the other side of the aisle.
Multiple Republicans this week have predicted impeachment could be on the table if Clinton wins, a possibility Trump has mentioned in a late effort to boost his bid for the White House.
And while Republicans are likely to control at least one chamber of Congress next year, Democrats would almost certainly seek to launch their own inquiries into Trump, should he triumph on Tuesday.
“The climate the atmosphere, the vitriolic nature of our politics does not change on Nov. 9,” warned one former top Democratic House staffer.
Rep. Michael McCaul, the Texas Republican and House Armed Services chairman, has repeatedly warned of a rocky road for Clinton if she wins.
This week, he called Clinton’s handling of classified information “treason.” A day later, he suggested she could be impeached if elected.
A handful of other Republican lawmakers, including Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonMost Senate Republicans don't want to see Trump run again Hillicon Valley — Presented by American Edge Project — TSA to issue cybersecurity directives to secure rail, aviation sectors Bill requiring companies report cyber incidents moves forward in the Senate MORE (Wis.), who is up for reelection, have recently entertained investigations or impeachment proceedings for Clinton.
Johnson, the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, told a local paper this week that Clinton’s conduct at State would meet the standard for removal from office if she were elected.
But some top Republicans, such as Senate Majority Whip John CornynJohn CornynCornyn raises more than M for Senate GOP Is the Biden administration afraid of trade? The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - After high drama, Senate lifts debt limit MORE (R-Texas), have tried to throw cold water on the impeachment talk.
“Using that word before an election is just very premature,” said GOP strategist and former top House Republican aide Ron Bonjean, who characterize impeachment talk as “overreach.”
But he echoed Republican lawmakers who say that simply investigating Clinton shouldn’t be seen as partisan, particularly if there’s an active FBI investigation into the next president.
“As long as there’s an official FBI investigation, it remains nonpartisan,” Bonjean added.
“If Republicans don’t appear to be overreaching, there will be very little sympathy for the fallout of an investigation.”
If Trump wins the White House, Republicans will almost assuredly control both houses of Congress. That would make it very difficult for Democrats to launch investigations into his administration or business dealings, since such inquiries would require GOP cooperation.
But Democrats would have plenty of other ways to generate attention, such as informal hearings or press events.
“Senate Democrats would need to relearn how to, after 8 years of a Democratic president, play the investigation and oversight team. They aren’t going to have subpoena power but they will have many ways to fashion attacks,” said former Senate Democratic aide Jim Manley.
Calling the Republican’s career a “target-rich environment,” Manley said he doesn’t believe Americans wouldn’t see investigating Trump’s taxes or his potential ties to Russia as a partisan issue.
But another former top House Democratic staffer noted that Democrats aren’t publicly talking about investigations the way Republicans are, and said that’s a smart strategy the party should stick with.
“It doesn’t really take a congressional committee to do anything for those to continue on. The Trump University trial is going to continue on, all the litigation in regards to his business will continue on,” he said.
“My advice to them would be — you don’t have to do it.”