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

Republicans close to President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden to sign executive order aimed at increasing voting access Albany Times Union editorial board calls for Cuomo's resignation Advocates warn restrictive voting bills could end Georgia's record turnout 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 NadlerHillary Clinton brings up 'Freedom Fries' to mock 'cancel culture' House sets vote for George Floyd police reform bill Jim Jordan calls for House Judiciary hearing on 'cancel culture' 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) MuellerWhy a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel CNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump 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 CohenThe Memo: Trump faces deepening legal troubles Trump lashes out after Supreme Court decision on his financial records Supreme Court declines to shield Trump's tax returns from Manhattan DA 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 CummingsBottom line House Democrats reintroduce bill to reduce lobbyist influence Trump voters and progressives have a lot in common — and Biden can unite them MORE (D-Md.).

The House Intelligence Committee — led by longtime Trump bête noire Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffHouse Democrats want to silence opposing views, not 'fake news' White House defends not sanctioning Saudi crown prince over Khashoggi What good are the intelligence committees? MORE (D-Calif.) — is examining Russia-related matters. 

The House Ways and Means Committee, with Rep. Richard NealRichard Edmund NealProgressives won't oppose bill over limits on stimulus checks Biden administration 'evaluating and discussing' position on Trump tax returns Senate panel unanimously advances top Biden economic nominees 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.