Trump’s Old Crew Members Are Ready to Hand Over Their Receipts to the House Judiciary Committee
And it’s not just that committee demanding documents. Another three Democratic-run committees want everything the administration has on Trump’s talks with Vladimir Putin.
The House Committee on the Judiciary said Monday it was still in the process of sending out document requests—even after it announced it had contacted more than 80 people and entities for records related to a wide-ranging set of topics, including alleged obstruction of justice, public corruption, and other abuses by President Donald Trump, his inner circle, and members of the administration.
A spokesman for the committee said that more requests would be coming.
The announcement that more individuals would receive document requests came after public speculation about why, for instance, Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump was not listed in the original list that was made public Monday morning.
It’s unclear which requests the committee plans on sending, but the spokesperson said those letters would not go out today.
The intensifying document demands underscore the coordination among House Democrats newly armed with gavels and subpoena power. Elijah Cummings, the Maryland Democrat who chairs the oversight committee, said after last week's blockbuster testimony from Michael Cohen that the committee chairs meet weekly to "try to figure out who's doing what."
Because it’s not just the House judiciary committee that demanded documents from Trumpworld on Monday. Three other Democratic-run House committees have asked the White House and State Department for all the material they have in their possession about the highly secretive meetings between President Trump and Vladimir Putin.
The chairman of the House intelligence, foreign affairs, and oversight committees wrote to White House acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday for information on the one-on-one discussions between the U.S. and Russian leaders. Even senior administration officials have professed not knowing what Trump and Putin discussed behind closed doors, including at a July 2018 summit in Helsinki.
Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Eliot Engel (D-NY), and Cummings told the White House and State Department to preserve internal documentation of conversations between Trump and Putin in Helsinki, the G-20 summit in Hamburg the previous July, and various leader-to-leader phone calls. They noted pointedly that “as a result” of earlier non-responsiveness from the White House about the possible destruction of records concerning Trump-Putin discussions, “we are now expanding our investigation.”
The three chairs asked for documentation of “the substance of President Trump’s communications with President Putin” and their impact on U.S. foreign policy, such as the “reconsideration, modification, or implementation” of any geopolitical course of action.
They want meeting and briefing notes surrounding any dialogue between the two, as well as to talk to “all staff, including but not limited to linguists, translators, or interpreters who participated in, attended, or in any way listened in on” face-to-face meetings and phone calls between Putin and Trump.
Some recipients, including senior officials in the White House, are likely to put up a fight in the coming days and weeks. However, not all past and present associates of Trump, past intend to resist the committee’s expansive call for documents. Carter Page, the Trump campaign foreign policy adviser whom the FBI placed under surveillance in 2016 owing to his proximity to Russian intelligence officers, said that he was already preparing documents to give the panel.
"I will be more than happy to help,” Page told The Daily Beast.
Page said he hadn’t heard from the committee before Monday morning’s mega-request went out to 81 government entities, businesses and individuals suspected of having information concerning a wide swath of allegations about Trump. Page said he had always been willing to help provide the truth to investigators, and expressed a willingness to testify publicly if necessary.
Mary Mulligan, an attorney for longtime Trump accountant Allen Weisselberg, declined to comment. So did the FBI, which acknowledged receiving the committee’s request – which asked for information on, among other subjects, Trump’s interactions with James Comey before Trump fired him.
Sam Nunberg, a former Trump political adviser who has already been grilled by the Robert Mueller grand jury and Senate Intel, said, “I plan to comply particularly because I was not sent a random letter, as I've seen with the list of other recipients.” He added, “I’ll give a detailed response. If I have documents, I’ll hand them over, and if I don’t, I’ll explain why it’s outside of my purview of responsibilities or my relationship with the president and the campaign.”
Michael Caputo, another former Trump campaign adviser and a peripheral figure in the Russia investigations saga, told The Daily Beast on Monday, with a hint of exasperation, “Here we go again.”
“I’ve been asked for the same documents in the past, and I’ve provided them,” he continued. “Congress has asked me for them in the past, and this is a photocopy job for me. But this is a perfect example [of how] they’re basically requesting information from everyone and anyone who intersected with Donald Trump during the campaign. It’s a harassment exercise that will not end well for them in 2020.”
Caputo then suggested that “it might be time for Senate Republicans to request documents for everyone who ever intersected with Hillary Clinton in 2016 on Uranium One, and her email server, and on the [Steele] dossier,” to potentially retaliate in kind. “Why not?”
Mark Corallo, a former spokesman for Trump’s legal team, vowed to cooperate. “I received the Committee’s request and will cooperate to the best of my ability,” Corallo told The Daily Beast. The committee wants to ask Corallo about a lot: his July 2017 resignation from the Trump legal-defense team, the 2016 pro-Russia revisions to the GOP platform concerning Ukraine, discussions about sanctions on Russia, any campaign-relevant data that changed hands with foreign officials during 2016, and “possible pardons for you, Paul Manafort, or Michael Cohen.” And that’s not even an exhaustive list.
Rob Goldstone—the music publicist who helped set up the notorious June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, Donald Trump Jr., and a Kremlin-linked Russian lawyer—said, “as with all the requests I have ever received, I will be complying in full and in a voluntary capacity.”
He also attached press clippings, via screenshots, to an email to The Daily Beast showing how he has cooperated in the past.
Felix Sater, a former Trump associate, stated, “I have and always will continue to voluntarily and truthfully cooperate with any United States government Agency and their requests.”
When it comes to the president’s outside legal team, things appear more up in the air.
Trump attorney Jay Sekulow, one of the people who was sent a request, simply told The Daily Beast, “We are reviewing the request for documents and we will respond at the appropriate time.”
Fellow Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani said that the legal team, not just Sekulow, is going to start reviewing it, and that there is currently no stated position from Trump’s outside counsel about complying or not.
Ditto the Trump campaign.
“We have received the letter from House Democrats, and we are reviewing their request,” said a Trump campaign official.
This is a new political landscape, with the Democratic Party having taken control of the House in the 2018 midterms “blue wave,” that many in Trump’s inner circle have been anticipating—or dreading, even—for quite some time. Several senior Trump administration officials told The Daily Beast last year that they expected to spend a lot more time appearing on Capitol Hill or going through reams of documents, if Democrats were to win back the House and launch a wave of investigations.
Monday’s news was the latest indication that those expectations are being met.
For his part, President Trump was, at least publicly, purely dismissive about the ongoing onslaught on Monday.
“I cooperate all the time with everybody,” Trump said, replying to a reporter’s question at the White House. “You know, the beautiful thing: no collusion. It’s all a hoax.”