Opinion: Running out the clock

By former Assemblymember Steven Sanders

To understand what is going on between President Trump, his attorney general, other high-ranking administration officials and the Democrats in the House of Representatives, it is useful to understand basketball strategy. When the game clock is winding down in a close basketball game, the team that is barely ahead and has the ball tries to make sure that the opposing team does not get another shot at scoring a bucket. So they protect the ball or just pass it back and forth to themselves.

With 535 days left before the next presidential election the Trump team is doing just that. Democrats in Congress have issued a subpoena to obtain the full unredacted report by Robert Mueller after newly appointed Attorney General William Barr refused to release parts of it. Barr said NO. Tick, tick, tick. Democrats have also subpoenaed President Trump’s concealed tax returns from the Internal Revenue Service. Thus far Trump and his Treasury secretary have said NO. Tick, tick, tick.

Democrats in Congress have requested bank records from a financial institution, which loaned Trump billions of dollars for questionable business dealings, that is now under scrutiny. Trump is suing to block that disclosure. They also want key Trump officials to testify at Congressional hearings regarding a variety of matters now under investigation. Trump is asserting “Executive Privilege” to try to block their testimony which might prove either embarrassing or unveil information about obstruction of justice during the Mueller investigation. Tick, tick, tick.

And to add to the president’s woes, The Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee just subpoenaed Donald Trump Jr. to return and clarify information that he provided about contacts with Russian operatives during the 2016 election…Uh-oh.

The Trump team has no intention of allowing negative information or possibly illegal conduct of this president to see the light of day before the next election. They have said so. They know that each of their actions to thwart Congress from exercising its constitutional oversight responsibilities will likely end in a stalemate with the courts having to decide. That process will take months and possibly several years to resolve, especially if the standoff between the executive and the legislative branches of government must be decided by the United States Supreme Court.

So even if the Trump team ultimately loses the judicial fight and is ordered to hand over documents, they still win the game. That is because their objective is delay, to get past the presidential election calendar without having to disclose anything that they wish to keep hidden from the voters.

If you believe that the public has a right to know what amount of taxes billionaire Trump has paid and his sources of income, as every other candidate for president has submitted since 1976, don’t hold your breath. And if you think that Congress has a right to know everything that Robert Mueller discovered during his nearly two-year investigation into the conduct of Donald Trump, before and after the 2016 election, think again. It is not going to happen so long as team Trump has the ball.

I personally prefer baseball to basketball. Each team gets the same nine innings and 27 outs before the game is ended. There is no time limit. Imagine if the Yankees were losing in the eighth inning and the opposing team would not let them come up to bat again and left the field with all their equipment?

4 thoughts on “Opinion: Running out the clock

  1. I too prefer baseball to basketball. But I know that as a basketball game and the time clock is winding down, the team that is behind also has a strategy to prevent the other team from using its time productively and steal time for themselves to close the gap. The lower scoring team intentionally commits fouls against their opponent. The clock is stopped, the other team is placed in a position where they will get one or two points while the losers will get additional tries to score two or three points.

    If this is the best the Democrats can do – break the rules to make up for not accomplishing anything positive during the time allotted – then one has to seriously question if the Democratic party is worth rooting for at the polls in November.

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