Ignoring Trump, Democrats expand Russia probe, send transcripts to Mueller


Credit: Jamie Dupree

Credit: Jamie Dupree

The morning after President Donald Trump used the State of the Union Address to call for an end to what he labeled 'partisan investigations' of his administration, the House Intelligence Committee voted to send transcripts of a number of interviews done by lawmakers in the last Congress to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, as the new Democratic chairman of the panel publicly set out a five point investigative plan which was focused squarely on the President himself.

"I am committed to leading a thorough and impartial investigation that will follow the facts," said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), as Democrats have argued for months that Republicans ignored critical leads in the Russia probe which might have drawn the investigation closer to Mr. Trump and his campaign.

Asked about the move, President Trump lashed out at Schiff and Democrats.

"He's just a political hack who is trying to build a name for himself," Mr. Trump told reporters at the White House. "It's called Presidential harassment."

Democrats weren't cowed by the President's words, as the House Intelligence committee on Wednesday set out a five point investigative plan led by Schiff, continuing to probe many of the same questions being looked at by the Special Counsel.

"Unfortunately, these and numerous other avenues of inquiry were not completed during the last Congress," Schiff said in a not so subtle jab at Republicans.

The investigative plan includes a central question of, "Whether any foreign actor has sought to compromise or holds leverage, financial or otherwise, over Donald Trump, his family, his business, or his associates."


Credit: Jamie Dupree

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Credit: Jamie Dupree

The actions by Schiff came as Democrats made clear that the President's comments on Tuesday night before a Joint Session of Congress would have no impact on their decision to investigate not only the Russia matter, but also to probe other ethical questions dealing with the President and the Trump Administration.

"I just thought that was very inappropriate, and very shameful," said Rep. Val Demings (D-FL), a member of the Intelligence Committee, after the President decried, 'ridiculous partisan investigations.'

"That was a threat," Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters on Wednesday morning.

"That went with the rest of the absurd things he said in his speech," said Rep. William Pascrell (D-NJ). "We do have different responsibilities according to the Constitution."

"Congress will not be intimidated," said Rep. Harley Rouda (D-CA), as Democrats defended their oversight responsibilities.

Before announcing the road map for the committee's probe, Schiff led the panel in voting to send transcripts of testimony taken in the last Congress to the Special Counsel's office.

Those transcripts - reportedly numbering around 50 in all - include testimony from Donald Trump Jr., and the President's son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

Just before authorizing the action on the committee transcripts, the Intelligence Committee also announced that the scheduled testimony for President Trump's former personal lawyer had been delayed until the end of February.

"In the interests of the investigation, Michael Cohen’s testimony has been postponed until February 28th," as Cohen had originally been scheduled to appear this Friday.

It was not immediately clear what necessitated the change - or what 'in the interest of the investigation' meant.