During President Donald Trump’s State of Union address last Tuesday, he called for an end to investigations called for by Democrats. The president referred to the strengthened oversight of his administration as ‘unlimited presidential harassment,’ while defenders of incresed oversight view the investigative work as common and necessary.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-California), announced he and his colleagues will further investigate the Trump administration because of reports of money laundering and financial compromise.
Schiff also mentioned further investigation pertaining to Russian collusion in the 2016 election, but he did not include any details supporting his concerns.
This announcement warranted a string of tweets from Trump and heated discussion between parties in the House and Senate.
“So now Congressman Adam Schiff announces, after having found zero Russian collusion, that he is going to be looking at every aspect of my life, both financial and personal, even though there is no reason to be doing so,” Trump tweeted. “Never happened before!”
Oversight committees are common, legal and have happened before.
The president defended himself extensively on Twitter and spoke highly of Senator Richard Burr, whose committee found no collusion between the Trump Administration and Russia after 200 witness interviews and 300,000 reviewed documents.
“Congress has the power and responsibility to oversee the White House,” said Michael Sances, a University of Memphis political science professor. “Congress’ motivation to use that power is, of course, partly political. That’s true in any administration.”
Sances said oversights are also a way to motivate branches to check each other.
“Oversight is a constant in politics and is used more often when the president and Congress are of different parties, or ‘divided government,’” Sances said.
The House shifted from a Republican majority to a Democratic majority in the last midterm election.
Trump is seeking re-election in 2020, and the investigations could harm his public image.
Citizens have differing opinions of oversight committees. Some think Schiff’s Committee is strictly for political gain, while others think oversight is needed.
“I think it’s good to have checks and balances, but I feel like it’s a waste of time if the people overseeing him never agree with a thing he says,” said Greyson Sterling, a senior health studies major at the UofM.
Sterling said the constant investigation is pointless because those conducting the investigations only care about partison politics, rather than what is being said or done.
Princess Moore, a sophomore psychology major at the UofM, had an opposing opinion, but Moore and Sterling both said they have not heard much about the topic and were unsure what to believe.
“I think (oversight) is a good thing in general,” Moore said. “I haven’t heard a lot about it, but it sounds like (Russian collusion and money laundering) could be true. If he has nothing to hide, he shouldn’t care.”
Trump continued to tweet over the weekend, boasting about the United States obtaining full control of ISIS territory and recent peace talks with North Korea. The president continues to work and campaign as the investigations intensify with no clear direction.