Factbox: Democrats in U.S. Congress take
aim at Trump with multiple probes
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[March 01, 2019]
By Richard Cowan
(Reuters) - In addition to Special Counsel
Robert Mueller and other federal prosecutors, several U.S. congressional
committees are pursuing investigations focusing on President Donald
Trump, looking at questions regarding Russia's role in the 2016
presidential election as well as the Republican president's finances.
Democrats took control of the House of Representatives in January,
giving them new investigatory powers including the ability to issue
subpoenas. Republicans control the Senate.
Mueller is due to submit to U.S. Attorney General William Barr a report
on his investigation into whether Trump's campaign conspired with Russia
and whether the president unlawfully sought to obstruct the probe.
Mueller's findings and those of the congressional committees may
influence whether Congress seeks to impeach Trump and remove him from
Here is a look at some of the work of congressional committees.
HOUSE OVERSIGHT AND REFORM COMMITTEE
This committee, under Democratic Chairman Elijah Cummings, possesses
wide-ranging oversight authority. The committee on Wednesday became the
first congressional panel this year to hold a public hearing involving a
key player in the issues surrounding Trump, his former longtime personal
lawyer Michael Cohen.
The hearing produced new allegations of wrongdoing by Trump including
after he took office in January 2017. Cohen himself has pleaded guilty
to lying to Congress and other charges and is due to begin serving a
three-year prison sentence on May 6.
His allegations included that Trump knew in advance that the WikiLeaks
website would release Democratic emails that U.S. officials have said
were stolen by Russia to harm Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
Cohen also said Trump directed the plan to pay "hush money" ahead of the
election to an adult movie actress who has said she had a sexual
encounter with him. Cohen provided the committee with documents
including a check to him signed by Trump that the former lawyer said was
to reimburse him for the payment to Daniels to buy her silence.
Cummings said the committee may try to get the president's son, Donald
Trump Jr., and his former accountant, Allen Weisselberg, to testify in
light to Cohen's statements.
HOUSE WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE
This committee, which oversees taxes and the Internal Revenue Service,
is studying ways to obtain Trump's tax filings. Trump previously has
refused to divulge the tax documents, citing an IRS audit. U.S.
presidents and presidential candidates for decades have routinely made
their tax filings public in order to be transparent about their personal
Committee members have raised questions about whether the tax returns
could reveal whether Trump had any income related to investments or
other business dealings with Russia or other countries. The committee's
chairman is Democrat Richard Neal.
HOUSE FINANCIAL SERVICES COMMITTEE
Democratic Chairwoman Maxine Waters wants to investigate Trump's ties
with Deutsche Bank AG, one of the world's largest financial
institutions, as well as information about potential Russian money
laundering through the bank. This committee oversees the financial
services industry including banks.
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House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Elijah
Cummings (D-MD) makes a statement during the testimony of Michael
Cohen, the former personal attorney of U.S. President Donald Trump,
before a House Oversight hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington,
U.S., February 27, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
When Republicans controlled the panel, they refused Waters' requests
to subpoena records held by the bank, which maintained that privacy
laws prevented it from providing information without subpoenas. The
Senate Intelligence Committee also has expressed interest in looking
into Deutsche Bank documents.
HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE
This committee, whose chairman is Democrat Adam Schiff, oversees
U.S. intelligence agencies. It aims to examine the scope of Russian
influence in U.S. politics, potential collusion between Trump's
campaign and Moscow and whether any "foreign actors" hold leverage
over Trump, his family, his business or his associates.
Schiff has said he will subpoena Mueller's complete final report on
his investigation if it is not given to Congress. Schiff also has
said he will call Mueller to testify if necessary.
There was partisan bickering on this committee when Republican Trump
ally Devin Nunes was its chairman before Democrats took control in
the House in January. Trump has often criticized Schiff including in
a Twitter post misspelling the congressman's name to sound like an
SENATE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE
Like its House counterpart, this committee also oversees U.S.
intelligence agencies. In a rare bit of bipartisanship in a Congress
with deep partisan divisions, Republican Chairman Richard Burr and
senior committee Democrat Mark Warner have been conducting an
in-depth look into Russia's role in influencing U.S. elections.
While they have worked in a collaborative way, Burr has said he has
not yet seen "anything that would suggest there was collusion by the
Trump campaign and Russia." Warner publicly disagreed with Burr and
cautioned against any conclusions until the investigation was
HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE
The committee, whose chairman is Democrat Jerrold Nadler, oversees
the U.S. Justice Department and federal law enforcement agencies. It
has investigators combing through court documents related to
Mueller's filings to determine potential topics for committee
hearings. The panel is focusing on the numerous contacts Trump's
campaign had with Russia during the 2016 presidential race. The
panel also intends to look into whether previous testimony given to
Congress and federal investigators by figures associated with Trump
has been false or misleading. Nadler also is expected to subpoena
the Mueller report if it is not released.
(Compiled by Richard Cowan; Editing by Will Dunham)
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