As investigations swirl, Trump is ready to fight, distract

Published 8:28 am Wednesday, March 6, 2019

WASHINGTON — The White House has beefed up its legal team. Its political team is ready to distract and disparage. And President Donald Trump is venting against all things Democratic.

Trump’s response plan to the ever-expanding congressional probes into his campaign, White House and personal affairs is coming into focus as newly empowered Democrats intensify their efforts. Deploying a mix of legal legwork and political posturing, the administration is trying to minimize its exposure while claiming the president is the victim of overzealous partisan investigations.

Trump said Democrats have fired the starting gun on the 2020 presidential campaign in an effort he’s dubbed “presidential harassment.”

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“Basically, they’ve started the campaign,” Trump said Tuesday, “so the campaign begins.”

Dictated more by events than long-range strategy, the administration approach comes as the White House is increasingly focused on the twin challenges of the probes and the upcoming 2020 election. But the overarching nature of the Trump response points to his increasing frustration with Congress, and his intention to seize on the investigations as evidence that he is under siege in Washington. While Trump is far from the first president to clash with Capitol Hill oversight, his enthusiastic embrace of political victimhood is still novel — and stands to serve as a key part of his re-election argument.

Aiming to appeal to the public’s sympathies, Trump said that instead of working together on legislation on issues like health care and infrastructure, Democrats “want to play games.”