House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler on Sunday stepped up his rhetoric about potential criminal wrongdoing by President Donald Trump and said he plans to request documents from more than 60 people linked to the president.
Nadler, D-N.Y., said during an interview on ABC’s “This Week” that congressional Republicans “spent two years shielding the president from any proper accountability.”
“It’s our job to protect the rule of law. That’s our core function. And to do that we are going to initiate investigations into abuses of power, into corruption and into obstruction of justice,” Nadler said.
On Monday the House Judiciary Committee plans to issue document requests from over 60 people connected to the White House and the Trump Organization, he said. Among those individuals are the president’s oldest son, Donald Trump Jr., and Adam Weisselberg, the chief financial officer for the Trump Organization. Nadler expected that the full list of names would be made public on Monday.
“It’s very clear that the president obstructed justice,” Nadler said, citing Trump’s frequent attacks on special counsel Robert Mueller; his alleged request that the FBI go easy on former national security adviser Michael Flynn; and his admission that one reason he fired FBI director James Comey was to stop “the Russian thing.”
“The White House seems to have used its power for personal enrichment in violation of the emoluments clause of the Constitution,” Nadler said. If the reports are true that Trump ordered his son-in-law Jared Kushner to be given a top-secret security clearance over the objections of the White House counsel and his intelligence advisers, that would constitute another abuse of power, he said.
But the congressman cautioned that “impeachment is a long way down the road.”
“We don’t have the facts yet, but we’re going to initiate proper investigations,” he said. “Before you impeach somebody, you have to persuade the American public that it ought to happen.”
Nadler said that crimes and impeachable offenses are “two different things.”
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In response to Nadler’s comments, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. R-Calif., said Sunday on “This Week” that he believes “Congressman Nadler decided to impeach the president the day the president won the election.”
McCarthy said “there’s nothing that the president did wrong,” and he accused Nadler of starting fresh investigations because he does not believe Mueller will conclude there was collusion between Russians and the Trump campaign.
On Sunday, Trump tweeted, “After more than two years of Presidential Harassment, the only things that have been proven is that Democrats and other broke the law.” He did not elaborate on what crimes he believes Democrats had committed.
“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 – And only because I won the Election! Despite this, great success!” the president said.
Trump also repeated an argument he first made last week that testimony from his former attorney Michael Cohen before the House Oversight and Reform Committee was contradicted by a book manuscript he had written before the FBI raided his home, hotel room and offices in April 2018.
In his testimony, Cohen called Trump a “racist” a “liar” and a “cheat.” But the manuscript for the book, which was to be called “Trump Revolution: From the Tower to the White House, Understanding Donald J. Trump,” painted a largely flattering portrayal of Trump, according to multiple published reports.
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When asked about Cohen’s testimony, Nadler said Trump’s former fixer “directly implicated” the president in “various crimes.”
He said the “major one” was the campaign finance violation Cohen pleaded guilty to that involved paying an adult film star weeks ahead of the 2016 election to remain silent about an alleged past affair with Trump. Cohen claims the president directed him to make the payment.
“Seeking to sabotage a fair election would be an impeachable offense,” Nadler said Sunday.
McCarthy said the payment was a “personal issue.”
“If it’s a finance campaign, those are fines,” McCarthy said, despite the fact that the violation to which Cohen pleaded guilty was a felony. “Those aren’t impeachable.”
McCarthy also pushed back at the notion that Trump’s granting of a security clearance to Kushner was an abuse of power.
“The president has the legal authority to do it,” McCarthy said.
During an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., said Cohen had a “checkered past” and “an ax to grind.”
Kennedy said that he would rely on Mueller’s conclusions regarding any potentially illegal acts by the president.
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Sen. Mark Warner, the ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, also took a wait-and-see approach Sunday on “State of the Union,” although he said that he believes there is “lots of evidence” that the Trump campaign conspired with Russia to influence the 2016 election.
The Virginia Democrat cited Cohen’s testimony that Trump deceived the public during the campaign about his efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow; that Roger Stone told him in advance about WikiLeaks publication of stolen emails; and that Trump knew about Trump Jr.’s meeting with Russians offering “dirt” on Hillary Clinton.
“Anyone that says there’s no evidence of collaboration, there’s plenty of evidence,” Warner said. “The question is, what kind of full conclusion do we reach? And I’m going to reserve my judgment on that conclusion until we finish our investigation.”
The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said on “This Week” that Democrats also plan to investigate “allegations that the Russians have been laundering money through the Trump Organization.” If true, Schiff said that would constitute “a profound compromise of this president.”
But Schiff also planned to wait on the Mueller report.
“While there is abundant evidence of collusion, the issue from a criminal point of view is whether there is proof beyond a reasonable doubt of a criminal conspiracy. And that is something that we will have to await Bob Mueller’s report and the underlying evidence to determine,” he said.
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