Democrats Ramp Up Trump Inquiries

(Bloomberg) — Heading into his re-election campaign, President Donald Trump faces months of inquiries by House Democrats beyond a potential impeachment probe.

The scrutiny extends from Trump’s personal finances to decisions made by the White House on issues such as health care and immigration, his alleged direct involvement in payments to silence two women claiming to have had affairs with him and whether his closest aides improperly used private messaging services to conduct official business.

Most probes don’t have a direct tie-in to whether the Judiciary Committee opens a formal presidential impeachment inquiry. But many do, and the interconnected investigations will add to the drumbeat of Democratic attacks on Trump leading up to the 2020 election.

Here are some of the biggest investigations to keep tabs on in upcoming months:

Impeachment

The highest-profile investigation is being conducted by the House Judiciary Committee. Chairman Jerrold Nadler says it has reached a key phase in building an impeachment case against the president, but Speaker Nancy Pelosi has yet to give a green light to a formal inquiry.

The Judiciary panel plans to vote Thursday on procedures for conducting hearings that could lead to an impeachment resolution.

Pivotal hearings are set for this month and into the fall, to follow up on former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s findings and build a case on whether Trump tried to obstruct the probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election. Other potential presidential abuses of power or corruption also will be under scrutiny.

A decision on whether to advance impeachment articles could come by the end of the year, Nadler said, though committee aides caution that is more an aspirational timetable than a deadline. Pelosi remains reluctant to pursue impeachment in the face of voter opposition, despite more than half of House Democrats favoring it.

Legal battles with the White house over attempts to obtain testimony from key witnesses — such as former White House counsel Don McGahn — and court action for other information are likely to extend into mid-November, if not beyond.

One big turn could come as early as next week. The committee has set a public hearing for Sept. 17 at which former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski — and two former associates who went on to serve in the White House, Rick Dearborn and Rob Porter — have been subpoenaed to testify. A Trump White House pattern of defying committee subpoenas could put that in doubt — and itself have implications for impeachment.

Trump Finances

The Financial Services and Intelligence committees continue to battle in court for Trump-related material from Deutsche Bank AG, Capital One Financial Corp. and other banks.

Democrats want to know about any foreign actors who might hold financial leverage over Trump or Trump family activities, or about any suspicious transactions. Trump’s lawyers last month went before a three-judge federal appeals court panel in New York seeking to overturn a ruling that the banks had to comply with subpoenas issued by the two committees.

A ruling is almost certain to be appealed by whichever side loses. Additionally, Trump’s lawyers have asked an appeals court in Washington to reverse a lower court ruling in favor of the Oversight and Reform Committee’s subpoena to an accounting firm, Mazars USA LLP, seeking the president’s financial records. The committee is trying to determine if Trump inflated the value of his assets and liabilities on financial statements, including to obtain bank loans.

Yet another front was opened in July, when the House Ways and Means Committee asked a federal court in Washington to force the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service to hand over the president’s tax returns for the past six years.

Conflicts of Interest

The Judiciary and the Oversight committees are investigating Vice President Mike Pence’s stay at the Trump International Golf Links and Hotel in Doonbeg, Ireland, as well as an Air Force crew’s stay at his Turnberry resort in Scotland, and Trump’s proposal to hold next year’s Group of Seven summit at his Doral golf resort in Miami.

Lawmakers were already questioning Trump’s refusal to divest his real-estate holdings upon becoming president, and looking into whether his hotels may be a draw for foreign visitors seeking favor with his administration.

Concerns have grown about government funds and foreign money being paid to Trump properties as possible emolument violations. The two committees are in the early stages of investigating the Pence, Air Force crew and G-7 matters, and have demanded the administration turn over related documents and records. They set a Sept. 19 due date for some of the material.

Hush Money

The Judiciary Committee is set to re-examine this fall whether Trump had a direct role in a 2016 scheme to silence two women, ex-Playboy model Karen McDougal and adult-film star Stormy Daniels, who say they had affairs with him.

The president’s former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, has said Trump personally repaid him for payments that the president directed him to make to Daniels as hush money. Democrats believe there’s enough evidence to show Trump was a co-conspirator in the payments that resulted in Cohen pleading guilty to campaign finance violations.

No hearing dates or subpoenas have been announced by the committee on the topic. A committee official confirmed plans to investigate as part of building an impeachment case this fall.

Election Interference

Three House committees say they are investigating alleged efforts by Trump and his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani to pressure Ukrainian government officials to assist the president’s re-election campaign and uncover dirt on Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden and his son.

The Foreign Affairs, Intelligence, and Oversight committees are demanding White House and State Department documents they say are related to the issue by Sept. 16. The panels also said they’re looking into reports the administration threatened to withhold security assistance to Ukraine, contrary to directions from Congress.

Giuliani had said he planned to travel to Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, to encourage the nation’s president-elect to press inquiries into two matters of interest to Trump.

One was the origins of Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. The other was the involvement of Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, in an energy company owned by a Ukrainian oligarch, and whether the former vice president had influenced the removal of a Ukrainian prosecutor with authority over investigations of the oligarch.

Democrats say they are investigating whether Giuliani was acting outside legitimate law enforcement and diplomatic channels to coerce the Ukrainian government into pursuing politically motivated investigations.

Records Violations

The Oversight committee is diving more deeply into the use by the president’s older daughter, Ivanka Trump, and her husband, Jared Kushner, of personal email accounts or other messaging while performing official business as senior advisers to the president.

The committee in July authorized a subpoena for all work-related texts and emails sent or received by White House officials on personal accounts, part of its probe into whether senior administration aides have violated federal records laws. The committee, in part, wants to know if any private messages contained classified information, including those sent through encrypted applications such as WhatsApp.

One specific focus is use of WhatsApp by Kushner, allegedly to communicate with foreign individuals.

Other Investigations

The Judiciary Committee this month subpoenaed Department of Homeland Security documents tied to allegations that Trump dangled pardons for agency officials who break the law to implement his immigration policies on the southern border.

Oversight is investigating reports Trump may have violated the presidential records act by by confiscating and destroying documents to keep secret the details of his meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Oversight also is looking into purported White House efforts to transfer highly sensitive U.S. nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia in potential violation of the Atomic Energy Act.

Democratic are seeking details behind Trump’s use of emergency power to spend more taxpayer money on a border wall than Congress approved; the administration’s decision to not defend the Affordable Care Act in court, and why Obamacare references are being removed from federal websites.

Oversight also has been investigating how Kushner, Ivanka Trump and others got their White House security clearances. The committee says a whistleblower said senior officials overruled protocols and concerns raised about 25 people whose security clearances were initially denied.

To contact the reporter on this story: Billy House in Washington at bhouse5@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Kevin Whitelaw at kwhitelaw@bloomberg.net, Joe Sobczyk, Laurie Asséo

bloomberg.com” data-reactid=”54″>For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.