Democratic House victory could echo from Moscow to Riyadh

NEW DELHI (AP) — The Democratic victory in the U.S. House of Representatives could echo from Moscow to Beijing to Riyadh, with empowered Democrats now able to launch new investigations into President Donald Trump’s international business empire and his political dealings with the rest of the world.

Overturning control of the House in Tuesday’s midterm elections has given the Democrats a powerful weapon to wield against Trump: the subpoena. The Democratic leaders of many House committees will have subpoena powers enabling them to obtain documents, emails and testimony.

The White House would likely fight many such requests in court, but the subpoenas’ reach could extend far beyond Washington.

That means Democrats could look into such issues as the 18 trademarks that China has granted in recent months to companies linked to Trump and his daughter Ivanka and whether they reflect conflicts of interest. China says it handles all trademark applications equally, but House committees could probe whether Beijing can exploit the Trump family’s substantial intellectual property holdings in China for political or diplomatic advantage.

On Wednesday, China said it didn’t want to comment directly on the election results.

“It’s their domestic affair. I don’t want to comment on that, otherwise I will run the risk of being accused of interfering in their midterm election,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters.

“Regardless of the result … we believe the two governments and the two peoples all want to maintain the sound and steady development of bilateral relations because we believe it is in the best interests of the international community,” Hua said.

For Moscow, the Democratic victory means a probable reopening of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The Republican-led Intelligence Committee closed its probe into Russian meddling, saying it had found no evidence of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. Democrats, though, have long said the Republicans ignored a string of key facts and witnesses.

Russian President Vladimir Putin denies any involvement in Trump’s election victory, but he may quietly favor renewed investigations, seeing them as a way to sow chaos and division in America’s bitterly divided political arena. What he would not favor, though, would be investigations or sanctions that damage the well-connected Russian oligarchs believed to have helped fund the meddling efforts.

After the election results, the head of the foreign affairs committee in the upper house of the Russian parliament said the Democratic win in the House would raise the pressure on Trump.

Konstantin Kosachev said in televised comments that Trump will face “unpleasant challenges — emotional at a minimum and political at a maximum.”

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