Coronavirus is going to give the Trump White House another opportunity to put into play the obstruction tactics it honed during the impeachment inquiry. There’s $2 trillion in economic stimulus, including a $500 billion relief fund for businesses, about which Trump told reporters “Look, I’ll be the oversight. I’ll be the oversight.” Which, no.
Trump then nominated a White House lawyer, i.e. someone who’s been selected for loyalty to Trump, as special inspector general for pandemic recovery. Brian Miller helped obstruct investigations into Trump’s extortion of Ukraine, and now Trump wants him to do the same for investigations into pandemic recovery funds, in the guise of an inspector general—someone who’s supposed to exercise oversight rather than defend against it.
House Democrats have already started asking for documents relating to Jared Kushner’s work on supply chains for personal protective equipment and ventilators. “We are troubled by reports that Mr. Kushner’s actions—and those of outside advisers he has assembled and tasked—may be ‘circumventing protocols that ensure all states’ requests are handled appropriately,’” Reps. Bennie Thompson and Carolyn Maloney wrote. “We are particularly troubled that Mr. Kushner’s work may even involve ‘directing FEMA and HHS officials to prioritize specific requests from people who are able to get Kushner on the phone.’”
But while the Trump White House wasn’t prepared to fight coronavirus, it’s certainly prepared to fight attempts at congressional oversight, including subpoenas.
Much of the House oversight will be run through a special select committee Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced last week, to be headed by Rep. Jim Clyburn. Expect it to involve a series of protracted legal battles as White House lawyers move to block any and all information. Can’t have the peons knowing what Prince Jared’s been doing, after all. Let alone the would-be king, Donald.