WASHINGTON — Just say no.
As House Democrats ramp up their post-Mueller investigations into President Donald Trump, his strategy for responding is simple: Resist on every legal front. The administration is straining to hold off congressional investigators, including their efforts to obtain the president’s tax returns, his business’ financial records and testimony from former senior aides.
“We’re fighting all the subpoenas,” Trump declared on Wednesday. And if House members go all the way and try to impeach him, he said he would “head to the Supreme Court” for help.
Portraying himself as unjustly persecuted in the aftermath of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, Trump said his White House would refuse to cooperate with further congressional investigation.
“I thought after two years we’d be finished with it. No, now the House goes and starts subpoenaing,” Trump told reporters on the White House lawn, asserting the probes have been commissioned solely for political advantage.
“Look, these aren’t, like, impartial people,” he said. “The Democrats are trying to win 2020.”
“The only way they can luck out is by constantly going after me on nonsense,” Trump said. “But they should be really focused on legislation.”
Washington has spent a week sifting through the aftermath of Mueller’s report, which did not find a criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia to help him win the 2016 election but reached no conclusion on whether he obstructed justice. Attorney General William Barr later said the president was not guilty of obstruction.
Trump has railed against Mueller’s report, even resorting to public profanity in dismissing it, but has also embraced it, claiming exoneration and painting any other attempt as partisan overreach.
But the Democrats, while debating whether to proceed down a path toward impeachment, have ratcheted up their own probes. The White House, in turn, has moved to stop them, laying the groundwork for what could be months of legal and political battles.
Over just the past few days, the White House has thrown up a series of stop signs.
“We’re going to fight everything; we already gave them every document and witness we have,” said Rudy Giuliani, another of the president’s attorneys. “Why do we have to do it again?”
Michael Caputo, who served as a communications adviser to Trump’s 2016 campaign, met with the president, first lady, and several White House staffers Wednesday in the Oval Office. Caputo said it was clear the president had no intention of cooperating with Democrats and had rejected the advice of people who say he should be quiet and move on.
“He’s not the least bit intimidated of all these threats of impeachment,” Caputo said. “And I think the Democrats and the media ought to strap in because it’s going to be a hell of a ride.”
The administration has considered asserting executive privilege over witnesses, even some who previously cooperated with Mueller.