Inside the Democratic Party’s Struggle to Rein in Trump

With the August recess fast approaching, Democrats remain divided over whether to fight fire with fire

Matt Laslo
GEN
Published in
4 min readJul 22, 2019

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U.S. Reps Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Kathy Castor, and Donna Shalala listen as  Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi speaks.
Photo: Alex Wong/Getty

TThis summer’s subpoenas, aimed directly at the heart of President Donald Trump’s inner circle, have been flying from Democrats, but the majority party in the House still hasn’t made much headway in their attempts to conduct what should be simple, constitutionally mandated oversight of the executive branch. And because of that inefficacy, many prominent Dems are growing increasingly frustrated with Nancy Pelosi.

The House Judiciary Committee has now issued subpoenas in its Russia probe for the likes of Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, and Jeff Sessions, the former attorney general. Meanwhile, the House Oversight Committee issued a subpoena to Kellyanne Conway for her alleged violations of the Hatch Act, an ethics law that prohibits federal employees from participating in political activities while on the job. And last week the entire House voted to hold current Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt in their census investigation.

But those efforts to investigate the president and his brain trust have been stymied at every turn — even after the Supreme Court upheld a challenge to Trump’s attempt to include a citizenship question on the upcoming census — because the president has claimed sweeping power to wall off congressional investigators from ever being able to question any of his top aides (or even low-level government employees, for that matter).

The pressure for House Speaker Pelosi to act more aggressively has been building from within her own ranks, and as lawmakers prepare to head out of Washington for the August recess, many formerly patient Democrats are now clamoring for decisive action. That’s not Pelosi’s style though, and her more dogged colleagues aren’t happy about it.

“Each day that passes, our democracy and our institutions are imperiled.”

Normally, stonewalling from the executive branch would mean a sprint to the courts, where we’d quickly see a resolution — or at least receive some clarity — on the myriad constitutional…

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Matt Laslo
GEN
Writer for

Journalist (Rolling Stone; Daily Beast; NPR); Prof. (Johns Hopkins; GW; BU; UMD); https://twitter.com/MattLaslo; frmr Managing Editor The News Station