Rep. Joe Barton has a warning for President Donald Trump and the GOP: Brace yourselves.
The Texas Republican, who is retiring in January at the end of his 17th term, said the president is in for a “rude awakening” on Jan. 3, when the 116th Congress is sworn in and Democrats take back the House majority.
Trump will not be able to ward off a tsunami of investigatory oversight of his administration just by adopting a chummy tone with Nancy Pelosi, the presumed next speaker. That’s not how things go in Washington.
“Trump right now probably thinks he can say nice things about Nancy Pelosi … and the power of his personality and the art of the deal … can help get him want he wants,” Barton said in a wide-ranging interview with the Dallas Morning News. “That’s not going to work.”
The Democrats have developed a deep-seated resentment toward the president over everything from personal insults to policy feuds to what they see as a corrupt administration and 2016 campaign operation that has so far avoided any oversight or accountability from the GOP majorities in both congressional chambers.
The House Democrats are “going to go just right at” Trump, Barton predicted, especially conducting oversight on the administration.
Pelosi’s cadre of House chairmen and chairwomen are “going to subpoena everybody and their dog,” Barton told the Morning News. Everyone will be drooling to take the mic and sound off on administration officials for sound bites, especially “all these freshman hot dogs who think they are God’s gift to democracy,” Barton said.
Barton spent 34 years in the House carving out a reputation as an anti-regulation, pro-energy crusader who wasn’t afraid to speak his mind, even if it rankled higher-ups in his own party.
He announced his retirement last year after naked images of him surfaced from 2013, when he was separated from his wife and had begun engaging in flirtatious online conversations with a woman from his district.
He is one of the few Republicans, for example, who supports a path to citizenship for “Dreamers,” young people covered under the executive Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program who were brought to the U.S. as children.
Barton warned that the president’s bullish, freewheeling style will not protect him from an onslaught of congressional oversight. Democrats will have subpoena power in January.
“Trump’s path is media celebrity, instant direct communication, say things in a flamboyant way to get attention and never back down,” Barton said. “And it worked, and to some extent it still works. So he thinks, ‘Why should I change?’
But Barton added, “He doesn’t know what’s about to hit him.”
Watch: Pelosi on Trump Shutdown, Border Wall, Mexico and Press Coverage