By Billy House
Nadler said he plans to demand documents Monday from more than 60 people and entities, including the White House, the Trump Organization and Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son -- following other committee chairmen who’ve made sweeping document requests since Democrats took control of the chamber in January.
The move is already fueling Republican charges that his probe is a thin disguise for a predetermined outcome: impeachment. But it will no doubt satisfy a Democratic base eager to see Trump put on trial. Any impeachment proceeding would be run by Nadler’s committee.
Trump has been lashing out over Democrats’ probes. “Presidential Harassment by ‘crazed’ Democrats at the highest level in the history of our Country,” he wrote Sunday on Twitter.
Nadler, 71, who was first elected Congress in 1992, made clear he’s prepared to proceed with his probe in ways that go beyond Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible Russian election collusion with Trump’s 2016 presidential team.
But Nadler said his document request isn’t part of an early impeachment inquiry.
Impeachment Evidence“Before you impeach somebody, you have to persuade the American public that it ought to happen,” Nadler said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” There are avenues of inquiry House Democrats will press that go beyond Mueller’s probe, but “we do not now have the evidence all sorted out and everything to do -- to do an impeachment.”
Still, Republicans say that’s where Nadler is headed, and some Democrats are urging caution.
“I think Congressman Nadler decided to impeach the president the day the president won the election,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California said on “This Week.” Representative Jim Jordan, an Ohio Republican, tweeted that Nadler should “at least pretend to be serious about fact finding,” adding: “What a Kangaroo court.”
Full FindingsMueller’s investigation on its own might -- or might not -- produce information that could be grounds for impeachment. Nadler reiterated that House Democrats would fight to obtain the full findings of Mueller’s 21-month probe, including by congressional subpoena or lawsuit, if the Justice Department balks at turning the report over.
Nadler depicted his panel as beginning a deep look into other areas of alleged presidential corruption and abuses of power, beyond potential collusion with Russia or any specific violations of the law being examined by Mueller.
The Judiciary Committee chairman said there are much broader questions and concerns about whether Trump, through some of his actions, is going too far and undermining “the rule of law” -- a reference to established and defined limits on the arbitrary exercise of power, and even criminality.
Regardless, Nadler’s document requests ensure that the probe of Trump, his family and his inner circle will continue for months if not years, even if Mueller’s findings -- which Trump has branded a “witch hunt” -- don’t find evidence of Russian collusion by the president.
Witness DemandsThe directions of Nadler’s inquiries may be partly answered on Monday by the list of people and entities expected to receive demands for documents.
Nadler mentioned that among those likely to be included in the demands are the Justice Department, Trump Jr. and Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg. He also said John Kelly, Trump’s former White House chief of staff and former White House Counsel Don McGahn, could also get attention.
Officials familiar with Nadler’s plans say the scope of the document demands will include alleged abuses of power by Trump through his attacks on the courts, the Justice Department, the FBI and the media. Later, Nadler intends to hold public hearings on the information and material obtained, though witnesses have not yet been determined.
Nadler’s investigative plans were in place last week, even before Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, testified publicly before the Committee on Oversight and Reform, and in private before the House and Senate intelligence committees.
Hush MoneyCohen told lawmakers Wednesday that Trump directed Cohen to make illegal hush-money payments to two women as a way to quash potential sex scandals during the 2016 campaign, that Trump Jr. had a role in the payments, and that Trump had deflated the value of some of his properties to lower his tax payments.
Cohen’s appearances have since led several other committees to announce their own next steps at looking into Trump’s businesses and charity, including seeking his tax returns, collecting more documents, holding hearings and calling witnesses for testimony.
Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings of Maryland suggested that his panel will pursue interviews with Trump associates that Cohen mentioned in his testimony or were found in records he provided to his committee, possibly including Trump’s children.
Trump AssociatesAnd Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff of California has said his panel will hold a March 14 hearing with former with Trump associate Felix Sater, who helped him develop a hotel. Weisselberg also will appear before Schiff’s committee for an interview, according to people familiar with the matter.
Schiff said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday that his panel also plans to talk some “some of the banks that have been doing business with Mr. Trump” such as “Deutsche Bank, which has had a history of laundering Russian money.”
He said he also wants to talk with officials in the Trump Organization and others who have information about Trump’s plans for a building in Moscow and about potential money laundering. Representative Maxine Waters of California, chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, has said she is getting cooperation from Deutsche Bank in her panel’s Trump-related probes.
There is impatient clamor by some Democrats for impeachment and hesitancy by others who want to wait for the Mueller report to even discuss it.
Judiciary Committee Democrat Jamie Raskin of Maryland says he’s not convinced Democrats will pursue impeachment.
‘Dragging the GOP Down’“Donald Trump is dragging the GOP down to defeat,” Raskin said in a recent interview. “To impeach Donald Trump now is to offer a big helping hand to the Republicans, partly.”
But Raskin said Congress shouldn’t abandon its constitutional oversight responsibilities -- a message Nadler is set to amplify as he seeks documents and pursues witnesses on matters beyond areas being covered by federal inquiries.
Nadler indicated his committee will be looking into efforts at “personal enrichment,” such as alleged violations of the emoluments clause of the Constitution, and also that, “We’ve seen abuses of power, obstruction of justice, threats to the Mueller investigation, threats to witnesses. All of these have to be investigated and laid out to the American people.”
“Our core job is to protect the rule of law,” he said of the Judiciary Committee.
Source: The Guardian