The Trump White House is about to find out what happens when the opposition party takes control of the House of Representatives.
Scott Jennings, whom the Senate subpoenaed when he worked for President George W. Bush, wants to help Trump aides understand what they will go through when Democrats take control of the House and have the power to subpoena documents and force administration officials to testify.
“It’s not just your time. It’s your mental state,” he said. “You’re stressed. You have high anxiety and you’re not going to be thinking as fully about your policy job when you know that tomorrow morning, you gotta go sit in front of some congressional committee.”
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In the second episode of a special three-part ‘Beyond the Bubble’ podcast series, Jennings, a Republican strategist close to the Trump White House explains why the slew of investigations could practically paralyze the administration. Jennings served as a special assistant to Bush during the 2006 midterms when Democrats took control of Congress.
“An investigation into one thing can easily balloon into 10 other things and none of it’s good,” he said. “It can feel intrusive and ridiculous but because Democrats are in charge in the House, they can do whatever they want..”
The White House should be hiring more staff to handle the congressional inquiries, advising administration officials to retain their own attorneys and researching potential areas of vulnerabilities. Instead, Trump aides are spending time responding to non-stop controversies, Trump tweets and the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
“One of the scariest things some of these staffers are going to hear is when White House counsel comes down the hall and says, “We don’t represent you. We represent the Office of the President. You’re going to have to get your own lawyer,’ “ Jennings said.
The administration is likely to face dozens of investigations into aides using private email for government business, the policy of separating immigrant children from their parents at the border, and sexual assault allegations involving his recent Supreme Court appointment, Brett Kavanaugh.
“One thing about his (Trump’s) first two years that I think is true: Democrats have overreached on a number of issues,” he said. “Now you give ‘em a little bit of power, and the capacity for them to overreach goes up even more.”
Republicans’ Way Forward is produced by Davin Coburn. Anita Kumar, a White House correspondent for McClatchy, recorded this episode at McClatchy’s Washington Bureau.