House Democrats issued a broad request for documents from entities and individuals from nearly all aspects of President Donald Trump’s orbit on Monday, according to The New York Times, and the move reveals the seriousness with which Democrats plan to investigate possible obstruction of justice, corruption and abuse of power by Trump and his administration.
Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, sent letters to 81 agencies, entities, and and individuals tied to Trump, the Times said, including: “the Trump Organization, the Trump campaign, the Trump Foundation, the presidential inaugural committee, the White House, the Justice Department, the F.B.I. and dozens of the president’s closest aides who counseled him as he launched attacks against federal investigations into him and his associates, the press, and the federal judiciary.”
Along with potential obstruction of justice, the committee will probe “accusations of corruption, including possible violations of campaign finance law, the Constitution’s ban on foreign emoluments and the use of office for personal gain.”
Though committees in both the House and Senate have taken cursory looks at the president’s behavior during the 2016 campaign and his time in office, the letters sent Monday indicate Nadler is taking a far more thorough and intensive approach to investigating Trump world.
Nadler said in a statement: “We will act quickly to gather this information, assess the evidence, and follow the facts where they lead with full transparency with the American people. This is a critical time for our nation, and we have a responsibility to investigate these matters and hold hearings for the public to have all the facts. That is exactly what we intend to do.”
While the lawmaker made no mention of impeachment, the Times noted that such an approach to investigating the president could conceivably lay the foundation for future impeachment proceedings.
Twice in the past fifty years “the House Judiciary Committee has drawn up impeachment articles based, in part, on the same themes that Mr. Nadler laid out: obstruction of justice and abuse of power,” the Times wrote.
But Nadler told the newspaper last week that he has yet to see overwhelming evidence of Trump’s threat to basic constitutional norms or crimes committed in office to warrant impeachment proceedings, as such a drastic move would require bipartisan agreement — an unlikely feat, particularly in the Senate, where conviction would occur.
Nadler signalled he is ready to issue subpoenas should those receiving letters fail to comply, but several limitations exist that could thwart the chairman’s agenda.
His attempt to obtain information from some sources, such as former White House counsel Don McGahn, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, and former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, could meet with claims of executive privilege from the White House.