Congressional Democrats poised to commence ‘vast probe’ into ties between — and crimes committed by — Trump and Putin
It looks like none of us are going to have enough popcorn, because this time Democrats are not kidding around.
Mueller is just the beginning. House Democrats plan a vast probe of President Trump and Russia — with a heavy focus on money laundering — that will include multiple committees and dramatic public hearings, and could last into 2020.
The state of play: The aggressive plans were outlined yesterday by a Democratic member of Congress at a roundtable for Washington reporters. The member said Congress plans interviews with new witnesses, and may go back to earlier witnesses who “stonewalled” under the Republican majority.
Why it matters: The reporters, many of them steeped in the special counsel’s investigation, came away realizing that House Dems don’t plan to depend on Robert Mueller for the last word on interference in the 2016 election. …
At least three committees are already involved: The House Intelligence Committee is taking the lead, coordinating with House Financial Services on money-laundering questions and with House Foreign Affairs on Russia.
Democrats are considering ways to uncover what was said in a Trump private meeting with Putin, “whether that’s subpoenaing the notes or subpoenaing the interpreter or other steps.”
The news comes on the somewhat misleading claim that the Republican-controlled Senate Intelligence Committee found “no direct evidence” of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
[T]he NBC report is being strongly disputed by members of the committee. The Democratic ranking member, Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, said the investigation isn’t finished. He added:
What we do know, and it’s part of the public record, there’s never been a campaign in American history that during the campaign and its aftermath that the campaign folks affiliated with the campaign had as many ties with Russia as the Trump campaign did,
Another member, Sen. Angus King of Maine — an independent who caucuses with Democrats — took issue with the NBC report as well. He told Mother Jones, “That’s not true. I think it’s misleading. The intelligence committee hasn’t discussed the matter, let alone released a committee report.” A Democratic committee aide backed up Warner’s point, saying that there was plenty of circumstantial evidence of collusion. He said, “None of those facts are in dispute, only what they mean.” … The term “collusion” has no legal definition so it ends up being one of those “I know it when I see it” concepts. (To coin a phrase, it depends on what the meaning of collusion is.) To me, it’s obvious that if representatives of a presidential campaign enthusiastically take a meeting with foreign persons who are presented as being “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump” and who promise to deliver “official documents and information,” they are colluding with a foreign government.