Trump’s troubles won’t end with a Senate acquittal

The Senate impeachment trial of Donald Trump will be resolved in the next week or so; the president will claim vindication and that it’s all over.

He’s only half right.

He will be officially acquitted on a largely partisan vote, but the issue and investigations of Trump’s misconduct won’t be over. There will be more House inquiries into new revelations on the Trump-Ukraine scandal, perhaps even Robert Mueller’s special counsel probe, the president’s potential financial conflicts of interest — and likely new lawsuits.

What the Senate does — or doesn’t do — in the days ahead will shape these events. If the Republicans are seen just trying to protect Trump, it won’t change the outcome but will ease the case for more wide-ranging subsequent investigations.

The greatest reality may be that any look at the Trump presidency suggests there will be more revelations, probably damaging to Trump. And this president will commit more controversial acts.

Some Republicans privately acknowledge they are worried that, after acquitting the president, they will be embarrassed by further disclosures.

A pointed reminder: It was only the middle of this month that Lev Parnas — one of the shady associates of presidential consigliere Rudy Giuliani’s attempt to pressure the Ukrainians to dish dirt on Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden — went public declaring that Trump knew “exactly what was going on.”

There will be the normal oversight activities in the House, scrutinizing ethical transgressions in the administration, high drug prices and the Commerce Department’s ill-prepared census operation, among others.

But Trump scandals will be front and center too. If the Senate limits any further testimony or material relating to the Ukrainian episode, House investigators will jump in when the trial is over.

A difficult question will be whether to call Parnas. He was intimately involved in the effort to smear Biden and may offer particulars. He also is under indictment and could be a juicy target for Republican attacks.

Democrats believe, however, that there is a lot more there and that eventually they can shake loose some of those files and emails of administration officials attempting to cover up Trump’s actions.

It may be difficult for Congress to successfully subpoena high-level former White House officials such as John Bolton, with the White House’s ability to delay and tie up the effort in the courts.

In a separate case, a federal judge ruled that Don McGahn, the former White House counsel, has to answer a congressional subpoena. The administration is appealing that decision, and the House told an appeals court it still is pursuing his testimony. McGahn told Mueller that the president told him to order the attorney general to drop an investigation of the president.

Separate cases from the House on turning over the president’s tax returns and a New York case demanding his financial records in a fraud inquiry may be settled by the Supreme Court.

There already are examinations of whether the president has violated the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause, which prohibits federal officials from accepting gifts or remunerations from a foreign state. A number of foreign embassies have been patrons of Trump properties, especially his Washington hotel.

What to pursue — and how aggressively — will be decided ultimately by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). 

Republicans will counter with two arguments: that their opponents are ignoring the issues voters really care about while hounding the president and that this is unprecedented harassment in an election year.

Both are bogus.

The House passed an ambitious legislative agenda last year on major domestic initiatives; almost all are being stiffed by Senate Republicans and the Trump White House.

As for the unseemliness of investigating a presidential candidate in an election year, in 2016 the House Republicans — then in the majority — conducted countless politically fueled inquests into Hillary Clinton on the tragic killing of American officials in Benghazi and Libya and on her use of emails as secretary of State.

With substance this time, the Trump scandals will be an unfolding saga.

Fred Wertheimer, an anti-Trump advocate, predicts, “This will go on to Nov. 3.”

Albert R. Hunt is the former executive editor of Bloomberg News. He previously served as reporter, bureau chief and Washington editor for the Wall Street Journal. For almost a quarter-century he wrote a column on politics for The Wall Street Journal, then the International New York Times and Bloomberg View. Follow him on Twitter @alhuntdc.

Tags congressional oversi Don McGahn Donald Trump Efforts to impeach Donald Trump Hillary Clinton House investigations Joe Biden John Bolton Mueller report Nancy Pelosi Presidency of Donald Trump Robert Mueller Rudy Giuliani Senate impeachment trial Ukraine

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