Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA), the new chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, today ignored President Trump’s implied threat during his State of the Union address last night — “If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation,” Trump proclaimed — by announcing that the committee would begin a sweeping investigation that would go far beyond the narrow focus on Russian interference in the 2016 election and probe into the thorny question of whether the president’s actions are being driven by his personal financial interests.
According to a report on CNN, Schiff told reporters after the initial Intelligence Committee of the new congressional session that the expanded investigation would “allow us to investigate any credible allegation that financial interests or other interests are driving decision-making of the President or anyone in the administration….That pertains to any credible allegations of leverage by the Russians or the Saudis or anyone else.”
The Intel Chairman later released a statement expanding his comments on the revitalized inquiry, saying that the committee would continue its investigation of Russia’s interactions with the Trump campaign while also probing “whether any foreign actor has sought to compromise or holds leverage, financial or otherwise, over Donald Trump, his family, his business, or his associates.”
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Schiff said that multiple House committees could become involved in the investigation which would also try to determine whether Trump or anyone in his administration have “sought to influence US government policy in service of foreign interests” and whether they attempted to obstruct any of the various active investigations into their conduct.
The launch of the renewed investigation began with a bold move that the Republicans previously in control of the committee prevented while they were still in charge — a vote to send the unredacted transcripts of the closed-door testimony of more than 50 people interviewed by the committee to Special Counsel Robert Mueller who can help determine whether any of them committed the felony of lying to Congress.
Among the people whose testimony Mueller will now have access to are Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and former senior Trump officials Corey Lewandowski, Steve Bannon and Hope Hicks.
The vote to send the transcripts to Mueller reflects the dramatic change in the balance of political power in the House, particularly since Republicans on the committee, led by then Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA), voted against doing so when they were in charge.
When Nunes chaired the committee he was considered more concerned with protecting President Trump than actually discovering any criminal conduct or Russian interference during the 2016 election, parroting the president’s talking points on every available occasion.
As the former chairman left the committee meeting today he was asked by reporters whether he had voted for releasing the transcripts to Mueller this time around. His petulant response didn’t answer the question but left no doubt that he shares Trump’s intense dislike of the media attempting to pour sunshine on the GOP’s hidden agendas.
“You guys are an embarrassment to yourselves,” was Nunes’ only response.
With Representative Schiff now firmly in charge of the House Intelligence Committee, Trump’s cynical appeal at the State of the Union last night for a halt to the investigations of his corrupt regime will fall on righteously deaf ears.
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Original reporting by Jeremy Herb and Manu Raju at CNN.