It appears President Donald Trump is suddenly fond of a new phrase: â€śPresidential Harassment.â€ť
Thursday morning began with tweets on the topic. First, Trump targeted House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who announced Wednesday that the committee would investigate alleged financial crimes involving Trumpâ€™s businesses. The message accused Schiff of â€śUnprecedented Presidential Harassment,â€ť which had â€śnever happened before.â€ť
Trump returned to Twitter less than two hours later and repeated the mantra: â€śPRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT! It should never be allowed to happen again!â€ť
Trumpâ€™s tone implies wrongdoing, but what he calls â€śpresidential harassmentâ€ť is known to most as â€ścongressional oversight,â€ť an integral part of the United Statesâ€™ system of checks and balances.
Though Trump recently took to the turn of phrase, Thursday was not the first time he used it.
â€śPresidential Harassmentâ€ť has come up on a handful of occasions, mostly when Trump is searching for someone to blame:
According to Trump, in November, it was â€śthe prospect of Presidential Harassmentâ€ť by Democrats that caused stock market volatility.
In early December, â€śPresidential Harassmentâ€ť - also known as the â€śphony Russia Witch Huntâ€ť - caused his plummeting approval rating.
After Republicans lost control of the House during Novemberâ€™s midterm elections, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., cautioned Democrats against â€śpresidential harassment.â€ť
As The Washington Postâ€™s Gabriel Pogrund reported: McConnell warned that â€śefforts to obtain President Trumpâ€™s tax returns and conduct oversight of his administration would backfire politically.â€ť
â€śThe whole issue of presidential harassment is interesting,â€ť he told reporters. â€śThe Democrats in the House are going to have to decide just how much presidential harassment they think is good strategy. Iâ€™m not so sure it will work for them.â€ť
Democrats formally took control of the House on Jan. 3, and vowed to aggressively pursue oversight investigations, which may include issuing subpoenas for potentially damaging documents and advancing the Russia investigation.
House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has made clear that she is prepared to respect, even defend, the rule of law. Democrats, she said, have a responsibility for oversight as part of the nationâ€™s system of checks and balances.
Legally, â€śharassmentâ€ť is a term used in civil lawsuits alleging workplace discrimination. Criminal â€śharassment,â€ť which differs from state to state, typically involves behavior intended to alarm, annoy or terrorize another, often causing that person to reasonably fear for his or her safety.
Congressional oversight fits neither definition.
Trump may not enjoy the oversight process. He may fear the information congressional committees may unearth. But Congress is supposed to bird-dog the executive branch of government.
As House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said on Wednesday, â€śTo say that we canâ€™t do [oversight] is to say that we shouldnâ€™t do our constitutional duty. Itâ€™s to assert an executive preeminence that one would think he might want to be a dictator.â€ť
Deanna Paul covers national and breaking news for The Washington Post. Before joining The Post, she spent six years as a New York City prosecutor.