State of the Union 2019: Trump says ‘ridiculous’ probes hurt the U.S. economy
U.S. President Donald Trump used his State of the Union address to warn Democrats against engaging in “ridiculous partisan investigations” that he said could contribute to a weakening of the American economy.
“An economic miracle is taking place in the United States and the only thing that can stop it are foolish wars, politics or ridiculous partisan investigations,” Trump said in his speech to a joint session of Congress.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who was seated directly behind Trump and next to Vice President Mike Pence, appeared to shake her head at Trump’s remark.
“If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation. It just doesn’t work that way!” Trump continued. “We must be united at home to defeat our adversaries abroad.”
Trump’s remarks came as Democrats who now control the U.S. House of Representatives planned a series of probes into the Trump administration while special counsel Robert Mueller investigates Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
Congressional Democrats have been exploring ways to target Trump’s tax returns by targeting the adequacy of the Internal Revenue Service audit that Trump often cites as his reason for not making the returns public, sources told Reuters.
Such a strategy, focused more on the IRS than on Trump, could help Democrats craft an iron-clad legal argument for what would likely follow from such a request – an unprecedented court battle over the tax records of a sitting president.
WATCH: President Donald Trump enters House chamber to deliver State of the Union address
As the Republican presidential nominee in 2016, Trump broke with decades of precedent by refusing to release his returns, saying they were being audited by the IRS.
As president, Trump has retained ownership of extensive hotel interests and other business ventures. For this reason, House Democrats say his returns would be a linchpin for oversight investigations of potential ties between the president and Russia and other conflicts of interest.
Meanwhile, Mueller’s office continues to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election, most recently indicting longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone on charges of obstruction, witness tampering, and lying to Congress. He has pleaded not guilty.
WATCH: Roger Stone pleads not guilty on charges in Mueller investigation
Democrats have expressed concern that Trump’s administration may try to undercut the investigation, which has clouded Trump’s two years in office. So far, the investigation has ensnared 34 people.
Trump has dismissed the probe as a political witch hunt and denies collusion with Russia.
— With files from Global News
© 2019 Reuters