The Memo: Team Trump insists Dem probes could 'boomerang'

Republicans close to President TrumpDonald John TrumpA better VA, with mental health services, is essential for America's veterans Pelosi, Nadler tangle on impeachment, contempt vote Trump arrives in Japan to kick off 4-day state visit MORE insist that Democratic congressional probes could come back to haunt the opposition party.

The Trump camp argues that Democrats will play into the president’s hands if they subject him, his associates and his family to an endless barrage of investigations.

Their theory — vigorously contested by critics of the president — is that such moves would bolster Trump’s case that he is being subjected to unfair attacks. 

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David Bossie, Trump’s deputy campaign manager in 2016 and someone who remains well-connected in his orbit, said the recent decision by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerDemocrats are running out of stunts to pull from impeachment playbook Trump asks if Nadler will look into Clinton's 'deleted and acid washed' emails Trump tweets conservative commentator's criticism of FBI director MORE (D-N.Y.) to seek documents from 81 people and entities showed “they are going to do exactly what the left wants them to do — attack the president at every turn.”

Bossie also predicted that “if the Democrats overreach, the American people are going to see that. They’re very smart. There will be a boomerang.”

Trump himself has been making the case that Democrats are engaged in what he refers to as “presidential harassment” — a phrase he tweeted again Friday. He appears to be using the term in a manner akin to his attacks on special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump orders more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions Trump: Democrats just want Mueller to testify for a 'do-over' Graham: Mueller investigation a 'political rectal exam' MORE’s investigation as a “witch hunt.”

But Mueller’s probe has proved resilient, in terms of public opinion, despite the president’s onslaught. A Quinnipiac University Poll in recent days indicated that 54 percent of registered voters believe the Mueller investigation is fair — exactly double the 27 percent who contend it is unfair.

Democratic-led probes may be more vulnerable, by their very nature, to the charge that they are partisan and tendentious.

But Democratic strategists as well as some outside analysts insist the danger of blowback is slight, at least for now.

Many voters will see the Democrats as making a long-overdue effort to hold Trump to account, they say — an effort that was absent during the first two years of his presidency, when Republicans held the majority in both chambers of Congress.

“They are definitely not overreaching. They are doing their constitutional duty,” said Allan Lichtman, a professor of history at American University who is also the author of a book making the case for Trump’s impeachment. 

Joe Trippi, a longtime Democratic strategist, complained that “for the two years Republicans had oversight, they never took that responsibility seriously enough to require anyone to produce documents, much less 81.”

House Democrats are taking the fight to Trump on several fronts.

Nadler’s committee is one of the most wide-ranging, delving into possible obstruction of justice and abuse of power. His panel also would be the starting point for any effort to impeach Trump, though Nadler himself has emphasized that they are some distance away from any decision on that question.

The House Oversight and Reform Committee — where Trump personal attorney Michael CohenMichael Dean CohenCohen challenges Sekulow to testify about Trump Tower meetings George Conway contrasts Trump denying 'cover-ups' with check to Michael Cohen Avenatti indicted for allegedly defrauding Stormy Daniels MORE caused an international sensation with public testimony on Feb. 27 — is looking at apparent payments to women who said they had affairs with Trump and the separate issue of White House security clearances. The panel is led by Rep. Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsNancy Pelosi fends off impeachment wave — for now House Democrats, Trump lawyers ask appeals court to expedite subpoena case Lawmakers call for 'time out' on facial recognition tech MORE (D-Md.).

The House Intelligence Committee — led by longtime Trump bête noire Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffFive takeaways from Barr's new powers in 'spying' probe Trump declassification move unnerves Democrats Trump appeals order siding with House Democrats bank subpoenas MORE (D-Calif.) — is examining Russia-related matters. 

The House Ways and Means Committee, with Rep. Richard NealRichard Edmund NealRepublicans attempt to amend retirement savings bill to include anti-BDS language House votes to boost retirement savings Steyer plans impeachment push targeting Democrats over recess MORE (D-Mass.) at its head, is looking at Trump’s tax affairs. Neal has been widely reported to be preparing a formal request to see Trump’s tax returns, which the then-candidate refused to reveal during his 2016 campaign.

But whereas Democrats and other Trump critics defend all of those probes as valid and necessary, the president’s backers see them as part of a calculated effort to sandbag him for much of the remainder of his first term. 

“They are trying to drain him of his resources to get things done by creating this monster investigation,” said Ron Bonjean, a Republican consultant who worked closely with the White House on the 2017 confirmation process for Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch.

Even loyalists such as Bonjean do acknowledge — to a point — that the political dynamics could shift abruptly, depending on whether the Democratic-led committees uncover damaging information.

“It can [change], but it depends on what it is,” he said, “Americans have been desensitized to these political accusations over the past several years.”

Bossie denied that Trump was “frustrated” by the probes at the moment, but he acknowledged that the president would need a top-flight team to push back against the pressure he faces.

“He needs to be ready for what the Democrats are bringing and needs to put together the best team around him to defend against the congressional overreach,” Bossie said. 

He added that this was “a work in progress. Are they ready today? I don’t know the answer. Will they be ready? I think they will be.”

The Memo is a reported column by Niall Stanage, primarily focused on Donald Trump’s presidency.