House Democrats launched a sweeping new Russia investigation Wednesday with the promise to dig deep into President Trump’s family and their money.
The new probe takes aim at Trump’s business, and it will investigate whether any of his administration’s decisions have been influenced by financial incentives dangled by foreign actors.
California Rep. Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, acknowledged the ongoing investigation of special counsel Robert Mueller while announcing the new congressional probe.
“[T]he Committee must fulfill its responsibility to provide the American people with a comprehensive accounting of what happened, and what the United States must do to protect itself from future interference and malign influence operations,” Schiff wrote in a statement Wednesday.
The investigation will have 5 vectors:
- Russian attempts to influence U.S. politics
- Links between Russia and Trump’s team
- “Whether any foreign actor has sought to compromise or holds leverage, financial or otherwise, over Donald Trump, his family, his business, or his associates”
- Whether Trump and his inner circle have ever been vulnerable to foreign exploitation, or tried to steer U.S. government policy to benefit foreign interests
- Whether anyone has tried to obstruct investigations, including those run by Congress
The revival of the Russia probe is the second major act from the House Intelligence Committee under Democratic leadership, and comes the same day that they voted to send key transcripts to Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
“As its first act, the Committee has voted to release to the Department of Justice and its components, including the Special Counsel’s Office, transcripts of testimony taken before the Committee during the 115th Congress, with no restrictions on their use,” Schiff said in a statement Wednesday.
The flurry of activity Wednesday marks the real-world consequences of November’s midterm elections, in which Democrats took back control of the House of Representatives. Having reclaimed control of House committees, Democrats can now investigate Trump’s White House and business empire — equipped with subpoena power.
Democratic leaders have already threatened to use that power to demand key members of Trump’s orbit testify before Congress, including Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen and Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker, who is scheduled to appear on Capitol Hill on Friday.
A previous Russia investigation in the House Intelligence Committee was closed by Republican leadership last March, amid partisan squabbling over whether its work was really finished. The committee’s GOP majority released a final report concluding there was no evidence Trump colluded with Russian efforts to interfere with the 2016 presidential election. Democrats in the minority published their own take, arguing that many potential leads were never followed up on.
Now, Schiff is signaling that the committee is about to take a deep look at whether Trump may be awash in dirty Russian money.
“During the prior Congress, the Committee began to pursue credible reports of money laundering and financial compromise related to the business interests of President Trump, his family, and his associates,” Schiff said in a statement.
“The President’s actions and posture towards Russia during the campaign, transition, and administration have only heightened fears of foreign financial or other leverage over President Trump and underscore the need to determine whether he or those in his administration have acted in service of foreign interests since taking office,” he said.
Cover: From left, Jared Kushner, senior adviser to the President; Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump, Laura Trump, daughter-in-law of President Trump, Eric Trump, son of President Trump, Donald Trump Jr., son of the president and executive vice president of development and acquisitions with the Trump Organization Inc.; and Tiffany Trump, daughter of President Trump, listen during President Donald Trump's State of the Union on February 5, 2019, in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Oliver Contreras/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)