House Democrats are pivoting away from investigations of President Donald Trump and toward economic issues and healthcare for the 2020 general election in November, according to a New York Times report, and shelving—for now—intentions to subpoena former National Security Advisor John Bolton and, in the eyes of critics, giving the president carte blanche on his machinations in the Justice Department.
The shift toward so-called “kitchen table issues” and a deprioritization of investigations raised eyebrows as political observers noted that Trump has only been emboldened by acquittal and that DOJ is currently roiled in a scandal over the president’s pressuring of Attorney General William Barr on prosecutions.
“Dems are gonna ‘run on healthcare’ while letting Bill Barr turn the Justice Department into muscle for the Trump organization,” tweeted Atlantic staff writer Adam Serwer.
Dems are gonna “run on health care” while letting Bill Barr turn the Justice Department into muscle for the Trump organization https://t.co/IuhIOyTCie
— Adam Serwer🍝 (@AdamSerwer) February 16, 2020
As Common Dreams reported, Trump’s meddling in DOJ prosecutions and sentencing guidelines has presented career prosecutors with a dilemma over how to proceed in a department that by all appearances has lost its independence. On Sunday, over 1,100 former DOJ officials signed an open letter to Barr asking him to resign over Trump’s interference.
“House Dems did literally the narrowest possible impeachment they could,” said Crooked Media‘s Brian Beutler. “The overwhelming majority of Trump’s corruption remains uninvestigated. And they have now made the decision to normalize his dictatorial control over DOJ.”
The Times reported that House Democrats will bring Barr in for testimony:
Democrats have summoned Mr. Barr to testify before the Judiciary Committee on March 31. In a harshly worded letter sent to Mr. Barr on Wednesday, Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, the panel’s chairman, signaled that Democrats planned to question Mr. Barr about overruling prosecutors on Mr. Stone’s recommended sentence and Mr. Barr’s willingness to accept information about Ukraine from Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, among other matters.
But, the Times added, that is the extent to which Democrats would like to take things, preferring instead to focus on healthcare and jobs. To that end, party leaders brought Steven Rattner, a financier whose firm manages former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s assets, to show lawmakers a PowerPoint presentation on how to speak on economic issues to everyday Americans.
As for Bolton, Democrats appear ready to move on from the former White House advisor’s testimony.
On February 5, Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) told CNN that the House still intended to subpoena Bolton on what Bolton knew and when about the president’s scheme to pressure Ukraine into announcing an investigation into Trump’s political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden. But Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) told the Times that the House has no plans to do so and that the caucus’ focus is largely shifting to domestic issues.
“I’ve been very clear and I think the speaker has, and other leaders, that our focus should continue to be on the ‘For the People’ agenda, which we articulated to the American people in advance of November 2018,” said Jeffries.