Excerpted from: Politico, “Veterans of past White Houses that faced hostile Congresses call life under the oversight microscope ‘excruciating.” By ANDREW RESTUCCIA and DARREN SAMUELSOHN 11/06/2018
“Democratic control of even one chamber of Congress will unleash an onslaught of hearings, subpoenas and document demands as lawmakers investigate everything from the president’s personal tax returns to his controversial policies on immigration, health care and the environment.
Beyond the huge consequences for national politics, the arrival of opposition-party oversight can make daily life in the White House unbearable for senior officials and their aides, according to more than a dozen veterans of the Clinton, Obama and George W. Bush administrations interviewed by POLITICO. Their assessments offer a gut-churning preview of what’s in store for Trump administration officials now that Democrats wield gavels come January.
White House staffers can expect to work past midnight battling congressional committees, wage exhausting fights over redactions to internal documents, suffer through mind-numbing meetings with government lawyers about the nuances of executive privilege and see their memos and emails leaked to the media by freshly empowered Democratic investigators.
One former Clinton administration official compared the experience to getting dental work without anesthesia. A former Obama administration aide described the period after Republicans regained control of the House in 2010 as “excruciating.” A former Bush administration official said it was one of the most demoralizing times of his career.
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election has given White House aides a crash course in responding to a major investigation. But former administration officials said the Trump White House itself has enjoyed only a taste of the hostile scrutiny to which Democrats would treat it.
Trump’s White House may have it even worse next year because of a rule change the House GOP approved near the end of the Obama administration granting unilateral subpoena power to all committee chairs, forgoing committee votes. “I suspect they’re not going to ratchet that back,” former Obama White House counsel Neil Eggleston said of a House Democratic majority.
If Democrats launch investigations, heretofore anonymous Trump officials can look forward to 15 minutes of unwelcome political fame as their private emails and memos are swept up in congressional document requests. During the Obama administration, for example, relatively unknown government workers — from IRS official Lois Lerner to White House energy aide Heather Zichal — saw their internal emails become national news as they were dragged before Congress.
Staffers also fretted that getting pulled into a congressional investigation would mean having to hire a personal lawyer and distractions from their day jobs.
Democrats have a long list of investigative targets — from outstanding questions about the Trump campaign’s 2016 contacts with Russia to policy decisions on multiple issues to the well-documented alleged ethical lapses of several Cabinet officials.
Democrats have also signaled plans to subpoena Trump’s tax returns, and the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee has said he wants to explore allegations that the Trump Organization has been a haven for money laundering.”