At this juncture in American politics it is safe to say that there are a great majority of the population that considers Donald Trump, his closest associates, and his family as the epitome of corruption. It would be impossible for all but the Trump family or the Donald himself to dispute that the television celebrity in the Oval Office “acts dishonestly in return for personal or financial gain” as a natural inclination. It is that corruption that has the Trump at the center of a veritable plethora of special counsel, F.B.I., and federal watchdog agency investigations. Now that the Trump has finally admitted he is under investigation for obstruction of justice by a special counsel, among other things, he can add a two-year investigation into “federal civil rights enforcement,” or lack thereof, within the Trump administration.
Trump likely learned of the bipartisan United States Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR) investigation at about the same time he took to Twitter to admit that he is the subject of a special counsel internal investigation. The Commission on Civil Rights operates under the authority of Congress and as a bipartisan agency it is charged with advising the White House and Congress on civil rights matters.
On Friday the Commission announced it had “unanimously approved a comprehensive two-year probe” into the “degree to which current budgets and staffing levels allow civil rights offices to perform” their important functions; especially in an administration that is openly hostile towards the civil rights of an ever-growing number of Americans in nearly every demographic save the filthy rich and white evangelicals.
What prompted the USCCR, a “federal watchdog agency” to launch an investigation into the entire Trump administration was several agencies that oversee civil rights gleefully announcing severe budget and personnel cuts to critical departments tasked with enforcing civil rights. According to a statement justifying a “two-year probe” into the Trump:
“The proposed cuts would result in a dangerous reduction of civil rights enforcement across the country, leaving communities of color, LGBT people, older people, people with disabilities, and other marginalized groups exposed to greater risk of discrimination.”
The commission, created under the Civil Rights Act and funded by Congress, expressed specific worry about seven federal agencies under Trump’s oversight. Of course the Department of Education and Department of Justice are going to get a very special investigation over the next two years; Betsy DeVos and Jeff Sessions are notoriously hostile to civil rights of every demographic save white evangelical Christians. The “Commission” will also take a long, hard look into the departments of Labor, Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, Environmental Protection Agency and the Legal Services Corporation. They are all agencies Trump promises to slash funding from because they closely monitor civil rights and Republicans want that funding sent to the wealthy in the form of tax cuts.
Although the Commission’s statement cited several agencies and departments for a close investigation, it was particularly interested in the Department of Justice under anti-civil rights crusader Jeff Sessions; an agency the Commission said has “completely changed its priorities.” The Commission said in its statement:
“Actions by the Department [of Justice] indicate it is minimizing its civil rights efforts. For example, a majority of the Commission criticized DOJ’s decision to site [install] Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officers in courthouses as a dangerous impediment to access to justice for all Americans.”
The Commission also singled out Education Secretary Betsy DeVos who has “repeatedly refused” to commit to enforcing federal civil rights. The Commission also found that, coupled with DeVos’ apparent intent to blow off civil rights for various demographics, the deep budget cuts within the Education Department’s ‘Office of Civil Rights’ is “particularly troubling.”
The statement announcing the two-year probe in the Trump administration actually cited DeVos’ Senate subcommittee testimony earlier this month where she refused to answer a query whether discrimination against LGBTQ students in private schools would be allowed on her watch. It is highly likely that members of the Commission are acutely aware that DeVos is no more a friend to the gay community than she is the disabled or minority communities.
It is really unfortunate that the Commission on Civil Rights lacks the the ability or authority to enforce its investigation’s findings, but it will at least get to present the results in a “final report to Congress at the end of 2019.” Once the report is presented to Congress, the Commission’s task is completed and it will be left to legislators to take action. The current chairwoman of the Commission, Catherine E. Lhamon, said:
“For 60 years, Congress has charged the Commission to monitor Federal civil rights enforcement and recommend necessary change. We take this charge seriously, and we look forward to reporting our findings to Congress, the President, and the American people.”
It is unlikely that regardless how damning the Commission on Civil Rights report is in the final analysis, a Republican controlled Congress and Trump will not take any corrective action any more than they regard civil rights for all Americans as a serious issue. Trump will declare it “fake news,” a “witch hunt,” and then summarily fire or disband the Commission. And Republicans in Congress will claim it was a partisan attack on white evangelical Christians and the Sessions-led Department of Justice will declare civil rights, like the Separation Clause, is unhistorical and unconstitutional overreach.
It is getting to be a chore to keep abreast of all the investigations into Trump, his family, and his administration, but at least with a two-year long investigation into seven different federal agencies in the Trump administration, there will be nothing to report on or opine about until the end of 2019.