If there’s anyone who might know anything about any allegation about wrongdoing by President Trump, encompassing everything from obstruction of justice to collusion with Russia to paying off potential ex-mistresses, the Democrats who now run the House Judiciary Committee on Monday are asking for their files.
Just days after the president’s former fixer Michael Cohen testified at length about what Cohen described as Trump’s habitual criminal behavior, House Judiciary Democrats sent letters requesting documents on a wide range of investigative lines to 81 people, government agencies, and private organizations.
It’s the investigative equivalent of shock and awe, heralding an even deeper phase of protracted congressional inquiries into all aspects of the president, his associates and his businesses. While the House Democrats are allergic to talk of impeachment, information they’re asking about concerns Trump and allies profiting from their offices, potentially lucrative ties to both hostile and allied foreign powers, and work to shut down investigations into these matters—all of which are likely to add to pressures on the left for impeachment.
Requests to produce material, initially due in just two weeks, went out to everyone from the White House and the Trump Organization to Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, Jared Kushner, ex-communications director Hope Hicks, ex-strategist Steve Bannon, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange, Roger Stone associate Randy Credico, Maria Butina boyfriend and GOP operative Paul Erickson, cooperating witness and former national security adviser Michael Flynn, and Flynn’s son.
The only member of Trump’s inner circle who did not receive document requests is Ivanka Trump, though several requests concern both her and her business interests. Ivanka Trump, sources said, could receive document requests herself in a later wave of committee activity.
The committee conceptualizes the document requests into three areas that can overlap: obstruction of justice, including about the various Russia probes; “public corruption,” including the campaign-finance violations that Cohen’s hush money payments to Stephanie “Stormy Daniels” Clifford and Karen McDougal potentially represent; and “abuse of power,” including attacks on what the committee described as “the press, the judiciary, and law enforcement agencies.”
That wide focus underscores both the aggressive investigative approach adopted by the newly empowered House Democrats and the wide span of allegations against the president of the United States.
“Over the last several years, President Trump has evaded accountability for his near-daily attacks on our basic legal, ethical, and constitutional rules and norms,” the committee chairman, Jerrold Nadler of New York, said in a statement Monday. “Investigating these threats to the rule of law is an obligation of Congress and a core function of the House Judiciary Committee. We have seen the damage done to our democratic institutions in the two years that the Congress refused to conduct responsible oversight. Congress must provide a check on abuses of power. Equally, we must protect and respect the work of Special Counsel, but we cannot rely on others to do the investigative work for us.”
The requests are not at this point subpoenas, and some are likely to face vigorous objection from their targets. Some receiving the document requests are attorneys like Don McGahn and Jay Sekulow, the latter of whom Cohen testified was instrumental in misleading Congress on client Trump’s behalf. To mitigate likely objections of executive privilege, the letters sent to witnesses say they may limit the documents they provide the committee to materials already provided to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, the Southern District of New York and other judicial or legislative entities.
Some of the targets of the requests give indications of where the myriad congressional investigations into Donald Trump, also pursued by the House intelligence, ways and means and oversight committees, are headed.
Receiving document requests were Alexander Nix, Cambridge Analytica, parent entity the SCL Group, and Trump campaign data expert Brad Parscale. Among the materials sought by investigators are “discussions or attempts to provide or receive election information… with, to or from foreign entities or individuals in connection with the 2016 U.S. presidential primary or general elections.”
From David Pecker and his American Media Inc., “documents relating to any payment, or discussions regarding any actual or potential payment” involving Cohen and so-called catch-and-kill efforts to quash negative stories about Trump during Trump’s candidacy and presidency.
From Blackwater founder and potential Trump diplomatic backchannel Erik Prince, as well as current Prince venture Frontier Services Group, any material about Russia, lifting U.S. sanctions on Russia, “the contents of meetings between President Trump and Vladimir Putin, and any contacts during the campaign or transition “with or regarding the Russian Federation, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, or Saudi Arabia.”
From Erickson and the NRA—which is also the subject of at least two Senate inquiries—information on “any loan, financing transaction or investment by the Russian Federation, any Russian national, any Russian business, or any other Russian entity to the Trump Organization, Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, or any of their Business Interests.”
From businessman and Mueller cooperating witness George Nader, information on the Trump Tower Moscow business deal that Cohen and associate Felix Sater pursued; and information about the infamous June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower New York with a Kremlin-tied attorney to discuss Ukraine-related sanctions relief and “dirt” on Hillary Clinton.
From investor Andrew Intrater, cousin-slash-Russian oligarch Viktor Veselberg, and investment firm Columbus Nova, information on foreign emoluments to Trumpworld, loans involving Trump and Russia, both the Trump Tower Moscow project and the Trump Tower New York meeting, and any Trumpworld discussion of lifting sanctions on Russia.
From campaign foreign policy adviser and unlikely GOP martyr Carter Page, information on the Intrater coterie, the June 2016 “dirt” meeting at Trump Tower Moscow and cutting out language from the 2016 Republican platform that advocated giving “lethal defensive weapons” to Ukraine against Moscow’s interests.
And the committee is also asking Trump associate Matthew Calamari and accountant Allen Weisselberg about catch-and-kill, the Trump Tower Moscow deal, and Trump family/business financial ties to Russia.