Last year, House Republicans absolved Donald Trump and his campaign of any wrongdoing when they delivered their report saying they found no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia in the 2016 election.
But the day after Trump used his State of the Union address to warn congressional Democrats against investigating him, freshly minted House Intelligence chair Rep. Adam Schiff announced a comprehensive, five-pronged reopening of that investigation that amounts to nothing short of a complete and total rebuke of his GOP predecessor.
While Schiff noted the Intelligence panel had originally pursued “credible reports of money laundering and financial compromise” related to Trump and his family business, he added, “unfortunately, these and numerous other avenues of inquiry were not completed during the last Congress.” In a statement, Schiff proceeded to lay out five specific areas of inquiry, representing a broad and fairly exhaustive palette of concerns.
Generally speaking, the prongs put a heavy emphasis on whether Trump and his inner circle could be compromised or manipulated for any reason, including through their financial interests, and whether the Russian government has benefitted in any way from its links to Trump. The new inquiry is less focused on collusion to win the election than on money laundering, corruption, and quid pro quo. Naturally, there’s also an obstruction element.
As Schiff told reporters Wednesday, the sweeping probe will “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.”
From the statement:
(1) The scope and scale of the Russian government’s operations to influence the U.S. political process, and the U.S. government’s response, during and since the 2016 election;
(2) The extent of any links and/or coordination between the Russian government, or related foreign actors, and individuals associated with Donald Trump’s campaign, transition, administration, or business interests, in furtherance of the Russian government’s interests;
(3) Whether any foreign actor has sought to compromise or holds leverage, financial or otherwise, over Donald Trump, his family, his business, or his associates;
(4) Whether President Trump, his family, or his associates are or were at any time at heightened risk of, or vulnerable to, foreign exploitation, inducement, manipulation, pressure, or coercion, or have sought to influence U.S. government policy in service of foreign interests; and
(5) Whether any actors – foreign or domestic – sought or are seeking to impede, obstruct, and/or mislead authorized investigations into these matters, including those in the Congress.
The committee’s first act in service of its new mandate was voting Wednesday to release all the transcripts of the closed-door testimony from the original investigation to both the Justice Department and special counsel Robert Mueller.
When Trump was asked Wednesday afternoon about the panel’s new undertaking, he said he was the target of “presidential harassment,” adding that Schiff was “just a political hack trying to build a name for himself.”
Now there’s some presidential level grace, character, and concern for the country.