September 4, 2018


Democrats, Eyeing a Majority, Prepare an Investigative Onslaught (Nicholas Fandos, Sept. 3, 2018, NY Times)

"If this is a referendum on Trump, the way I would want to frame it is not 'remove or retain' but 'contain or enable,'" said Representative Brad Sherman, Democrat of California, who has already introduced an article of impeachment against the president. "There are more votes for 'contain' than there are for 'remove.'"

But with Mr. Trump's longtime personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, implicating the president directly in the payoffs to Stephanie Clifford and Karen McDougal, the conviction of Mr. Trump's former campaign chairman in federal court and a rash of indictments and other alleged wrongdoings swirling around House Republicans themselves, the Democrats are increasingly selling themselves as a much-needed antidote to a "culture of corruption" in the capital.

Democrats believe the Republicans abused the power of the majority to hobble the Obama administration, deeply damage Hillary Clinton and protect Mr. Trump. That frustration, coupled with what most lawmakers expect to be a wave of Democratic anti-Trump outrage fueling midterm victories, could overwhelm the instincts of more moderate members of the party to chart a different, more bipartisan course than Republicans have.

Democrats on the Oversight Committee, typically the House's most muscular investigative body, have more than 50 subpoena requests that have been denied by committee Republicans since Mr. Trump took office, from the administration of security clearances at the White House to chartered jet travel by cabinet officials to Justice Department documents related to its decision not to defend the Affordable Care Act in court.

"It's not like we have to go dig them up. They are right there sitting on the desk," Mr. Cummings said.

In the Intelligence Committee, home to the House's only investigation of Russian election interference, Democrats have shown interest in reopening what they viewed as an anemic inquiry that was prematurely closed by Republicans. They have outlined an ambitious list of witnesses worthy of potential subpoena, and Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the committee's top Democrat, says that unsubstantiated suggestions that Russia could have laundered money through the Trump administration are of "great concern."

Party leaders could also choose to impanel a special committee to focus on the Russia matter, freeing the Intelligence Committee to more traditional oversight of the C.I.A. and the F.B.I.

But many of the most sensitive investigations directly touching Mr. Trump are likely to fall to the Judiciary Committee, one of Congress's most partisan bodies, where impeachment proceedings must begin. Led by Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, committee Democrats have repeatedly pressed for an investigation of whether Mr. Trump's business profits violate anticorruption clauses of the Constitution. They titled a 56-page report on requests mothballed by Republicans "A Record of Abuse, Corruption, and Inaction."

Perhaps more consequentially, Mr. Nadler and his colleagues have pushed for the committee's own Russia investigation, as well as inquiries into the firing of James B. Comey as F.B.I. director last year and Mr. Trump's attacks on the F.B.I. and the Justice Department. While not formal impeachment inquiries, studying those topics would allow the committee to begin to quietly set a foundation for a potential report from the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, or the presentation of new facts by prosecutors in the Cohen case.

"We have to see more," Mr. Nadler said of impeachment. "We need more evidence. We need to see what Mueller comes up with. We may get there."

Led by Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, House Judiciary Committee Democrats have repeatedly pressed for an investigation of whether Mr. Trump's business profits violate anti-corruption clauses of the Constitution.CreditErin Schaff for The New York Times
In the wake of Mr. Cohen's guilty plea last month, Mr. Nadler requested an emergency meeting of the committee to demand insight from the Justice Department into its continuing investigation of potential campaign finance violations, as well as a public hearing on presidential pardons. The committee's Republican chairman, Representative Robert Goodlatte of Virginia, did not reply.

Less marquee committees -- including the Financial Services, Veterans Affairs, Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce Committees -- would probably carry out their own policy-oriented probes, digging out private communications behind divisive administration decisions and personnel, or even take a run at obtaining Mr. Trump's long-sought tax returns.

A president essentially has two years to enact his agenda.  No one was interested in passing Donald's.

Posted by at September 4, 2018 4:00 AM