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Jason Riley: Democrats Hope Scandal Trumps Economic Growth in 2020

Democrats have settled on a strategy for making Donald Trump a one-term president, and it amounts to rehashing last week’s Michael Cohen fiasco over and over between now and November 2020.

The Democratic Party now controls nearly two dozen House committees, with the power to convene hearings, question administration officials and subpoena documents. For the next 20 months, we’ll be treated to hearing after hearing that reveals facts we already know. The goal is to keep the political press writing about scandal and little else. The goal is to turn obscure figures like Annie Donaldson and Allen Weisselberg and David Pecker and Paul Manafort into household names. The goal is not to unearth new information but to create a spectacle for television cameras and lay the groundwork for impeachment proceedings.

Jerry Nadler, the House Judiciary Committee chairman, acknowledged as much to ABC News on Sunday, when he said that “impeachment is a long way down the road. We don’t have the facts yet.” Nevertheless, he added: “It’s very clear that the president obstructed justice.” Like Lewis Carroll’s Red Queen, Mr. Nadler reaches his conclusions before he gathers his facts. Mr. Nadler and his colleagues are just getting started. They are targeting not only the president and his administration but also the Trump business, foundation and family.

Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, remains convinced that Vladimir Putin is responsible for Mr. Trump’s election. Mr. Schiff has said that Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with Russian operatives in Trump Tower in 2016 is “direct evidence” of collusion. Mike Quigley, a congressman from Illinois who sits on Mr. Schiff’s committee, told National Public Radio this week that the investigation is “more important than Watergate” and that there is a “real likelihood that the president of the United States, to an extent, conspired with the Russians to attack our democratic process.” These Democrats are not waiting for the results of Robert Mueller’s investigation. Nor are they willing to accept the special counsel’s report if he clears the president of colluding with Russia to get elected. Their minds are made up.

As a political strategy, what liberals are doing makes some sense. Mr. Trump is personally unpopular, and nonstop investigations might keep him that way. Besides, Democrats won control of the House in November while promising to hold the administration accountable. Technically, they’re fulfilling a campaign pledge to their progressive base, though judging from the president’s own counterproductive efforts to construct a border wall, that’s not always the right move. The bigger problem for Democrats is that we are more than two years into Mr. Trump’s term, and they aren’t telling voters anything substantive about the president or his associates that hasn’t been revealed in umpteen books and countless news stories. The issue isn’t the veracity of these accounts so much as the priorities of voters. Democratic leaders in Congress, still bitter over 2016, are maneuvering to overturn the results of an election that millions of voters believe lifted the country out of a lengthy funk.

To the dismay of his political opponents, Mr. Trump continues to rack up solid accomplishments as president. Corporate tax cuts and regulatory relief were opposed by most Democrats in Congress but are paying solid dividends. Last week brought news that the U.S. economy expanded by 3.1% in the fourth quarter from a year earlier, a feat predicted by administration officials but considered pie-in-the-sky by some of the left’s leading economic lights. The job market is strong, household incomes have increased, and consumer spending is robust. Homeownership is at its highest level in almost five years. It’s no wonder that the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News survey has the president’s job-approval rating up 3 percentage points from December and January to 46%, a figure that “is similar to those of President’s Clinton and Obama at this point in their terms,” according to the Journal. You might recall that Messrs. Clinton and Obama were re-elected.

Notably, the Trump economy has also helped groups sometimes left behind during previous expansions. The Census Bureau reported last month that the Hispanic poverty rate in 2017 was the lowest on record. “The poverty rate declined overall in 2017 but the rate among Hispanics had one of the largest year-to-year drops across demographic groups and was the lowest since poverty estimates for Hispanics were first published in 1972.”

The economy is doing much better than it has in a long time, and so are millions of Americans. So long as this keeps up, Mr. Trump likely will get a pass from voters on Jared Kushner’s security clearance and Roger Stone’s WikiLeaks machinations, no matter how many redundant hearings the Democrats make us endure.

Jason Riley is a member of The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board.

The views expressed in opinion articles are solely those of the author and are not necessarily shared or endorsed by Black Community News.

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