While the House Intelligence Committee is gearing up for a full investigation of one whistleblower’s complaint, and the White House’s attempts to cover it up, another committee is sitting on a whistleblower complaint that came directly to it.
Rep. Richard Neal, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, has been sitting on a complaint from an IRS whistleblower who might have evidence of Donald Trump attempting to corrupt an audit of his personal tax returns. Neal has used the whistleblower’s complaint, reportedly, in the committee’s suit against the Trump administration for its refusal to provide copies of Trump’s tax returns. Neal has been frustrating many of his colleagues (and everyone else resisting Trump) for his extreme slow-walking of getting Trump’s taxes and in general of pushing the issue of Trump’s financial corruption.
Ditto Rep. Peter DeFazio, who’s chairman of Transportation and Infrastructure, the committee that oversees Trump’s D.C. hotel. The Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold explained to NPR’s Terry Gross that “Trump’s D.C. hotel is located in a taxpayer-owned building under a lease from the GSA, the General Services Administration.” Which means DeFazio could be digging into Trump’s use of the hotel—the taxpayer-owned property—to make personal money off of foreign dignitaries and others, known in the Constitution as emoluments and a no-no for presidents. DeFazio “has the power to really dig into it,” Fahrenthold says, but he’s not doing it. The “pushback from DeFazio’s underlings, other members of Congress,” Fahrenthold has been told, “has been that DeFazio is slow-walking this because he wants to make an infrastructure deal.”
Well, Neal and DeFazio, here’s your chance to shine, all wrapped up in the Ukraine impeachment. At Vox, Matt Yglesias points to a nugget in the Trump-Zelensky transcript that’s gotten very little attention. Zelensky, being the supplicant in this call, trying to jolly Trump into providing the assistance that Congress has already approved, says, “I would like to tell you that I actually have a lot of Ukrainian friends that live in the United States. Actually, the last time I traveled to the United States I stayed in New York near Central Park and I stayed at the Trump Tower.”
Boom. A foreign leader who wants something from Trump is telling him he has put money directly in Trump’s pocket, because he knows that’s how the game is played with Trump. It’s blatant corruption, it’s costing the taxpayers a lot of money, and Congress has to take it seriously.