Dems ready new investigative blitz into Trump and associates

Elijah Cummings, Jim Jordan

In this Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019 file photo, House Oversight and Reform Committee Chair Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, speaks as he gives closing remarks with Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, the ranking member, at left, as the hearing for Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former lawyer, at the House Oversight and Reform Committee concludes, on Capitol Hill, in Washington. Cummings, said afterward that he wanted to call in several people mentioned repeatedly by Cohen. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

By Jonathan Easley and Alexis Simendinger

Democrats will dramatically escalate their investigations into President Trump this week, provoking new chatter about how far off impeachment proceedings might be in the House.

A half-dozen congressional committees are investigating the president and his associates, effectively strangling the administration and Trump Organization with requests for testimony and documents into the president’s policies, business interests and campaign.

On the menu this week…

Today, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) will request documents from 60 people and entities tied to the president as part of broad investigation into allegations of corruption and obstruction of justice.

Reuters: House panel launches probe into possible obstruction by Trump.

Nadler’s aggressive investigation is notable because his committee would conduct a potential impeachment hearing.

“Before you impeach somebody, you have to persuade the American public that it ought to happen.” — Nadler

“I think Congressman Nadler decided to impeach the president the day the president won the election.” — House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.)

Also on Monday, House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) has set a deadline for the White House to respond to a voluntary request for documentation about the administration’s security clearance practices.

Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner will be in focus here, following a report in The New York Times that Trump overrode a decision by his former Chief of Staff John Kelly, who recommended Kushner’s security clearance be denied over conflicts of interest.

The Hill: Dems ramp up scrutiny of Kushner’s security clearance.

On Wednesday, Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen will return for a fourth day of testimony on Capitol Hill before he reports to prison in May.

Cohen, whose public testimony last week sent the Democratic investigative machine into overdrive, will appear for a second time to give private testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, which is led Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), one of Trump’s chief antagonists on Capitol Hill.

Schiff is conducting an investigation that spans Trump’s 2016 campaign, the Trump Organization’s pursuit of a real estate deal in Moscow and the president’s business dealings with Deutsche Bank, among many other things.

The Washington Post: House, Senate Intelligence panels explore Cohen’s knowledge of discussions about potential pardons.

Trump business associate Felix Sater will give public testimony before the committee next week.

The president blasted back at “little shifty Schiff” during a two-hour speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Saturday. Trump continued to defend himself on Sunday on Twitter, declaring, “I am an innocent man being persecuted by some very bad, conflicted & corrupt people in a Witch Hunt that is illegal & should never have been allowed to start.

“All of a sudden they’re trying to take you out with bullshit.” — Trump at CPAC

Schiff has ruled out a 2020 challenge to Trump.

The Associated Press: Looking beyond Robert Mueller, Dems cast investigative nets.

The Associated Press: House Democrats expand Russia probe.

Meanwhile, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is working to tamp down talk about impeachment.

The crush of new investigations underscores the anxiety and enthusiasm Democrats feel as they consider pursuing impeachment.

The Hill: Dems feel growing pressure on impeachment.

NBC News: The Democratic dilemma over impeachment.

Would Democrats dare to tackle that thorny and divisive issue during an election year when the president will be on the ballot? Are Democrats misreading the public’s interest in the Russia investigation? Can they make the case that allegations of corruption rise to the level for impeachment?

These are the questions the party will wrestle with in the coming days and weeks.

“The longer term trend is, the country sort of said they … decided what they think about Russia, and until there’s a heck of a lot more fact, this country is nowhere near where it needs to be to think you can impeach a president.” — GOP pollster Bill McInturff on NBC’s “Meet the Press”

 

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