Investigations of Trump Ramp Up Monday With Document Queries
(Bloomberg) -- The House Judiciary Committee plans to issue document requests to more than 60 people on Monday as investigations begin into obstruction of justice, corruption and abuse of power related to President Donald Trump, Chairman Jerrold Nadler said.
The requests will go to individuals including from the White House, the Justice Department, the president’s son Donald Trump Jr., and Allen Weisselberg, the chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, Nadler said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday.
Nadler said Trump was directly implicated in “various crimes” in public testimony before the House last week by Michael Cohen, his former lawyer and fixer. But the investigations are just starting, and evidence must be collected before the House considers whether to begin impeachment proceedings against Trump, Nadler said.
“Impeachment is a long way down the road,” Nadler said. “We don’t have the facts yet, but we’re going to initiate proper investigations.”
Nadler said crimes and impeachable offenses can be two different things, and that the House can’t rely solely on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference into the 2016 presidential election.
Democrats, who won control of the House in November’s midterm elections, are gearing up for investigations and hearings that they say will go beyond whatever Mueller finds in his investigation of Russian interference into the 2016 presidential election. Democrats say those issues include contacts with Russia and questions about foreign funding for the Trump Organization and the president’s inaugural committee.
Representative Maxine Waters of California, chairwoman of the Financial Services Committee, said on MSNBC on Friday that Deutsche Bank is cooperating with her panel regarding its relationship with the president and concerns about “money laundering.” Trump provided an inflated picture of his assets to Deutsche Bank when preparing to make a bid for the NFL’s Buffalo Bills, Cohen said in his testimony.
Weisselberg was involved with Cohen in paying hush money to an adult film actress in the days before the 2016 election in violation of campaign finance laws, Cohen said. He also said Trump was aware of the infamous 2016 meeting at Trump Tower that included Donald Trump Jr. and other campaign associates with a Russian who said she had damaging information about Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, a California Democrat, has said the panel is also scheduling a March 14 public hearing with Felix Sater, an associate of Trump involved in negotiating a possible business deal in Moscow.
Trump has objected to investigations into his business dealings, and he tweeted on Sunday that he is “an innocent man being persecuted by some very bad, conflicted & corrupt people in a Witch Hunt.”
But it would be “perilous” for the country if questions about Trump’s finances were ignored, Schiff said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” He cited concerns about the proposed Trump skyscraper development in Moscow that Trump was pursuing during the presidential campaign, and allegations of Russians laundering money through the Trump Organization that are being investigated.
“There are any number of witnesses that can shed light on whether America’s national security is compromised because the president has been pursuing financial interests with the Russians,” Schiff said.
Asked on ABC whether he thought Trump obstructed justice, Nadler said, “Yes, I do,” citing Trump firing former FBI Director James Comey and intimidating witnesses “in public.”
Also asked whether it was a violation of the emoluments clause in the Constitution for Trump to take to Twitter on Saturday to promote one of his money-losing Scottish golf courses, Nadler replied, “it certainly seems to be.” He also said Trump demanding that a security clearance be granted to son-in-law Jared Kushner over the objections of intelligence officials, as the New York Times reported last week, was an abuse of power.
“The president has a right to do a lot of things, but he can abuse his power in doing that,” Nadler said.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, also asked about the security clearance on ABC, said the president has the right to pick his own team and that Trump obviously wasn’t concerned about whatever may have been holding up Kushner’s clearance.
“They give you the pluses or the minuses, whatever the concerns are,” McCarthy said. “The president made the choice and he’s doing a good job at it.”
Kushner isn’t a security risk, National Security Adviser John Bolton said on “Fox News Sunday.”
“I don’t have any concerns,” Bolton said. “I deal with Jared all the time on the Middle East peace process and a number of other issues -- I trust him.”
‘Everything We Can’
Meanwhile, Justice Department regulations call for a special counsel to provide a final report to the attorney general, who decides what to tell Congress and make public. Attorney General William Barr has indicated he’s likely to send his own summary of the findings to Congress, rather than Mueller’s actual report.
Nadler said House Democrats are prepared to “do everything we can” to get the report and underlying evidence if the Justice Department withholds it on grounds a sitting president can’t be indicted.
Virginia Senator Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, said Barr’s first step should be to discuss Mueller’s report with the so-called Gang of Eight, the Republican and Democratic leaders of both chambers of Congress and of the respective House and Senate intelligence panels.
“That’s appropriate for our role in terms of what his plan is on how he’s going to distribute this information,” Warner said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
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