The House Judiciary Committee approved the parameters for its impeachment investigation into Donald Trump Thursday morning — the most significant step Democrats have yet taken as they weigh the divisive move. House Judiciary Committee approves guidelines for Trump impeachment probe:
The move is largely symbolic, but it represents Democrats’ first legislative action on one of Congress’ weightiest responsibilities — even if they can’t agree on what to call it.
“Some call this process an impeachment inquiry. Some call it an impeachment investigation,” Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) said, arguing that a House vote is not necessary. “There is no legal difference between these terms, and I no longer care to argue about the nomenclature.”
That’s a big “fuck off” to all of the political media mavens who have been whining about a lack of clarity on “messaging” of what the House Judiciary Committee is doing with this investigation. They are investigating the crimes and impeachable offenses of the most corrupt and criminal president in American history. You pretentious pricks cannot figure out that messaging for yourself?
The resolution, which Nadler billed as a “necessary next step” in its months-long investigation, allows Trump and his lawyers to formally respond to evidence and testimony presented in the committee’s hearings. [The resolution follows closely the guidelines adopted by the House Judiciary Committee for the Nixon impeachment].
The measure also preemptively triggers a House rule that allows staffers to question witnesses for an hour at the end of every hearing deemed part of the impeachment investigation. It describes the panel’s ability to accept evidence in secret “executive sessions,” and it authorizes the subcommittees to hold hearings and question witnesses in order to expedite the process.
* * *
In late July, the committee for the first time referred to its investigation as an impeachment probe, telling federal courts that the panel is considering whether to recommend articles of impeachment to the full House. It was part of an effort to secure documents and witness testimony that Democrats say are critical for its investigation, and remain tied up in court amid blockades from the White House and the Justice Department.
* * *
The committee kicked off its investigation into the president in March, focusing on allegations of corruption and abuses of power. The following month, special counsel Robert Mueller completed his investigation into Russia interference in the 2016 election, and Trump’s efforts to interfere with the probe.
Mueller’s report documented several potential incidents of obstruction of justice, including a directive from Trump to his then-White House Counsel, Don McGahn, to fire Mueller and shut down his investigation.
More recently, Democrats have zeroed in on allegations that Trump is violating the Constitution’s emoluments clauses, which seek to ensure that presidents do not benefit financially from government spending — by the U.S. or foreign governments.
The Judiciary Committee is investigating Trump’s recent suggestion that next year’s G7 summit be held at his Doral resort in Florida, in addition to Vice President Mike Pence’s recent stay at a Trump-owned property in Ireland.
Additionally, the House Oversight and Reform Committee is probing military stays at Trump’s resort in Turnberry, Scotland, during stopovers from the U.S. to the Middle East.
Nadler has said that the committee will decide by the end of the year whether to recommend articles of impeachment to the full House. Some articles have already been referred to the Judiciary Committee.
“We have a constitutional, historical, and moral obligation to fully investigate these matters,” Nadler said. “Let us take the next step in that work without delay.”
This will move the courts considering subpoenas and document requests to expedite those matters. Things should start moving now.
President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen is formally cooperating with an investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office into whether Trump’s company falsified business records, a source familiar with the situation told NBC News.
“He figures as much as he can help, the better,” said CNBC’s source of Cohen, whose proffer agreement allows him to share information with prosecutors without fear of having that information being used to file criminal charges against him.
Cohen has not yet formally asked his sentencing judge in his federal case to reduce his prison term.
Marc Mukasey, a lawyer for the Trump Organization, had a tart response to the news of Cohen’s cooperation.
“When you lie down with dogs, you wake up with fleas,” Mukasey told CNBC in an email.
On Aug. 20, representatives from the prosecutors’ office, which is headed by DA Cyrus Vance Jr., went to meet with Cohen at the prison in Otisville, New York.
“Cy wants to go after the Trump Organization,” the source said. “They’re trying to get as much [evidence] as they can.”
Cohen, who worked for Trump for years, has knowledge about hush money payments that he made to porn star Stormy Daniels and that American Media Inc., then-publisher of The National Enquirer, made to Playboy model Karen McDougal. The payments were made to keep the women quiet before the 2016 presidential election about their purported affairs with Trump years before.
Vance’s office is eyeing whether Trump’s company, and top executive Allen Weisselberg, falsified records in connection with the hush money payouts to obscure the true nature of the disbursements.
In early August, Vance’s office subpoenaed records from the Trump Organization related to payments to Daniels, and also issued a subpoena to American Media Inc., the Enquire’s former publisher.
* * *
Vance currently is prosecuting Trump’s former campaign chief Paul Manafort on felony charges of mortgage fraud, conspiracy and falsifying business records. Manafort, 70, has pleaded not guilty in that case, which is not related to the Trump Organization.
Manafort is currently serving a 7 1/2-year federal prison sentence after being convicted in 2018 on charges of bank fraud, tax fraud, conspiracy and failing to file a foreign bank account. That case is connected to the long-time Republican operative’s work for a pro-Russia political party in Ukraine.