US House panels seek details on Trump communications with Russia's Putin
Mar 05 2019
Included in the requests were the Trump Organization, as well as several employees invoked by former Trump attorney Michael Cohen during his hearing last week before the House oversight committee: Chief Financial Official Allen Weisselberg, Executive Vice President Matthew Calamari, and President Trump's longtime personal assistant Rhona Graff.
At an event at the White House with the North Dakota State championship football team, Trump was asked if he plans to cooperate. Should they fail to do so, the panel will subpoena the documents, Judiciary staff told reporters on a call Monday morning.
The chairmen of three House committees that are investigating the administration sent a letter to the White House about President Trump's conversations with Vladimir Putin and his reported attempts to keep the details on the down low. "We will act quickly to gather this information, assess the evidence, and follow the facts where they lead with full transparency with the American people", he said. "That is exactly what we intend to do".
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said the White House had received the letter and "the counsel's office and relevant White House officials will review it and respond at the appropriate time". She did not comment further.
The special counsel is also looking into whether the president's actions, such as tweeting about the investigation's witnesses and firing the former FBI Director James Comey, amount to obstruction of justice.
While speaking over the weekend at CPAC, President Trump accused Democrats of abusing their power.
"I think Congressman Nadler made a decision to impeach the President the day the President won the election", McCarthy told Jake Tapper Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union".
The documents requested by Nadler are a first step in the committee's effort to explore possible obstruction of justice by the president into special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether Trump or anyone close to him coordinated with the Russians during the campaign.
The investigation appears to be focused on Trump's business dealings, possible collusion with Russian Federation, and obstruction of justice allegations.
The expansive new probe suggests the potential for laying the groundwork for possible impeachment proceedings against Trump. The committee said there might be additional requests.
The probe comes following mid-term elections in the U.S. that gave Democrats a majority over Trump's Republicans in the House.
The panel is sending document requests to 81 people linked to the president and his associates.
They are also an indication of the Democrats' current strategy - to flood the administration with oversight requests, keeping Trump and his associates on trial publicly while also playing a long game when it comes to possible impeachment.
Several committees are probing related matters as well, and while many might overlap, the committee chairmen and chairwomen say they are working together on the investigations. "Our work is even more urgent after senior Justice Department officials have suggested that they may hide the work of the special counsel's investigation from the public".
Cohen testified the money was meant to partly reimburse him for $130,000 he paid shortly before the 2016 election to adult film star Stormy Daniels as hush money, to keep her quiet about an alleged affair she claims to have had with then real estate mogul Trump more than a decade ago. But Ivanka Trump was omitted, even though former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen told lawmakers last week he briefed her numerous times about a Trump skyscraper project in Moscow.