The Stew Reporting on government and politics

All the president’s investigations

Politics | House Democrats subject President Donald Trump to death by a thousand hearings
by Harvest Prude
Posted 3/07/19, 05:23 pm

WASHINGTON—After the 2018 midterm elections handed Democrats control of the House of Representatives, President Donald Trump warned lawmakers in his State of the Union address last month that “if there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation.”

But the applause had barely faded before House Democrats started flexing their oversight power. So far, nearly every House committee has opened, or plans to open, an investigation into some aspect of Trump’s world.

On Monday, the House Judiciary Committee sent document requests to 81 individuals and entities associated with the Trump White House, his campaign, and his business entities. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., said the inquiry will focus on possible obstruction of justice, corruption, and abuse of power by Trump. He limited most of the requests to documents that had already been provided in other investigations.

Also on Monday, the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, and Oversight and Reform committees requested details from the White House and the State Department about Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s private meetings and conversations. The Intelligence Committee is also investigating Trump’s foreign financial dealings, and the Oversight and Reform Committee is looking into how the White House grants security clearances.

House Democrats also have inquiries planned into Trump’s personal tax returns, businesses, and finances.

Then there’s special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and others, such as one by the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, that have resulted in more than a dozen court cases like as the one against Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, who will be sentenced Thursday on corruption charges.

“It’s increasingly clear that … Donald Trump faces a legal assault unlike anything previously seen by any president,” Wired contributing editor Garrett M. Graff wrote.

The White House has so far denounced the investigations as fishing expeditions that won’t find any evidence the president committed crimes. In a statement Monday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders accused Democrats of opening the latest investigation “because they are terrified that their two-year false narrative of ‘Russia collusion’ is crumbling.”

On Tuesday, Trump called the flurry of congressional probes part of a campaign of presidential harassment. “The witch hunt continues,” he told reporters. “Instead of doing infrastructure, instead of doing healthcare, instead of doing so many things they should be doing, they want to play games.”

Trump said he plans to cooperate with Nadler’s investigation, but the White House has resisted others. White House counsel Pat Cipollone refused a request for information in the security clearance probe in a letter Tuesday, dubbing the request “unprecedented” and “intrusive.”

The administration has also focused on beefing up the White House counsel’s office to deal with the information requests. Cipollone hired an additional 17 attorneys after the midterm elections, Axios reported.

The investigation onslaught is part of a slow-bleed strategy by Democratic House committee heads to line up blockbuster hearings, such as that of former Trump personal attorney Michael Cohen last week, and request documents that could be damaging to the president. They ultimately want to impeach Trump, but have so far tread carefully on the subject. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., announced Wednesday that she plans to introduce articles of impeachment in the upcoming weeks, but they are not likely to make it to the House floor anytime soon. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Democrats would wait to move on impeachment until the Mueller investigation concludes and they can examine the results.

“If the Democrats in Congress want to convince Republicans that there have been improprieties or criminal activities they need to build an airtight, overwhelming case,” Amy Black, a political science professor at Wheaton College, told me.

Associated Press/Photo by J. Scott Applewhite Associated Press/Photo by J. Scott Applewhite Rep. Ilhan Omar

This week in Congress

In the House of Representatives:

  • Republican leadership on Feb. 28 appointed six GOP lawmakers to join the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis formed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., in January.
  • Democratic leadership on Wednesday delayed introducing a resolution that would condemn anti-Semitism in response to another round of controversial comments from Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn. After complaints, Democrats went back to the drawing board and are now working on a draft that will include condemnation of anti-Muslim bias, as well. They have dismissed Republicans’ suggestions to remove Omar from the Foreign Affairs Committee.
  • House and Senate Democrats introduced the Save the Internet Act on Wednesday to reinstate net neutrality laws.

In the Senate:

  • The Senate confirmed Andrew Wheeler to head the Environmental Protection Agency in a 52-47 vote on Feb. 28.
  • Sens. Chris Coons, D-Del., and James Lankford, R-Okla., have reintroduced the LIFT for Charities Act on Feb. 28. Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C., will introduce a version of the act in the House next week. The act would repeal a new tax on churches and nonprofits.
  • On Tuesday, the Senate confirmed Allison Jones Rushing as a judge on the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals by a 53-44 vote. On Wednesday, it voted to confirm Chad Readler to the 6th Circuit by a 52-47 vote.
  • The Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions held a hearing Tuesday to examine rules on childhood vaccination requirements and exemptions in light of recent outbreaks of preventable diseases. —H.P.
Associated Press/Photo by Mark Lennihan Associated Press/Photo by Mark Lennihan Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (left) with Saikat Chakrabarti in June 2018 in New York.

Account access

The top aide to freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., faces scrutiny for $885,000 in payments he received from his boss’ campaign and from political action committees, according to a complaint filed this week with the Federal Election Commission (FEC).

Saikat Chakrabarti, who now serves as Ocasio-Cortez’s congressional chief of staff, headed two PACs and a political consulting company called Brand New Congress that provided 2018 campaign services for Ocasio-Cortez and other liberal Democrats. The National Legal and Policy Center charges in its complaint that the setup served to cover up campaign expenditures.

FEC filings show the PACs and campaigns making contributions for “strategic services” to Chakrabarti’s company, but the complaint says the company should have given a more specific account of what campaign work it provided.

“In all my years of studying FEC reports, I’ve never seen a more ambitious operation to circumvent reporting requirements,” said Tom Anderson, director of the group’s Government Integrity Project. “Rep. Ocasio-Cortez has been quite vocal in condemning so-called dark money, but her own campaign went to great lengths to avoid the sunlight of disclosure.”

Ocasio-Cortez and Brand New Congress have denied any wrongdoing.

“There was no violation,” she told Fox News.

Chakrabarti tweeted he had been upfront about Brand New Congress and another organization he help found, Justice Democrats, from the beginning, pointing to an interview he gave in 2016 when starting the groups that he described as an effort to run congressional campaigns like a national presidential one.

Campaign finance expert Paul S. Ryan of the nonprofit group Common Cause told NBC News that there may have been a violation of FEC disclosure requirements, but that such a violation would likely be seen as relatively minor. —Anne K. Walters

2020 roster

The Democratic Party’s 2016 nominee for president, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, announced Monday she will not make a run for the White House in 2020. Speaking to a New York City television station, Clinton said she isn’t running but plans to “keep on working and speaking and standing up for what I believe.” But sources close to Clinton later told a New York Times reporter that she “wasn’t trying to be emphatic and close the door on running.”

In a less ambiguous announcement, Michael Bloomberg, billionaire and three-time mayor of New York City, said he is out of the running. “I am clear-eyed about the difficulty of winning the Democratic nomination in such a crowded field,” he said on Sunday. Bloomberg said he will work instead on fighting climate change by encouraging the use of renewable energy sources. Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon, and Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio also announced this week they will not seek the Democratic nomination for president.

Meanwhile, an already crowded field of Democratic candidates continued to expand. On Friday, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee declared his intentions to join the 2020 race. In a video announcement, Inslee said he will focus his campaign on climate change, a move that has earned him the endorsement of celebrity scientist Bill Nye. John Hickenlooper, the two-time governor of Colorado, announced Monday that he will also run for president.

When those Democratic candidates gather on stages to debate during the primary season, their interactions will not air on Fox News. The Democratic National Committee said Wednesday it will bar Fox from hosting or broadcasting any of its debates. DNC Chairman Tom Perez said Fox News “is not in a position to host a fair and neutral debate,” citing a recent New Yorker report on the ties between the cable news channel and the Trump White House. Bill Sammon, managing editor of the Fox News Washington Bureau, said in a statement he hoped the DNC will reconsider. —H.P.

Exit interviews

Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb announced Tuesday that he will resign in one month. Under his watch, the FDA cracked down on electronic cigarettes to curb teen vaping. Gottlieb also led a push to lower drug prices by reducing barriers to generic medications breaking into the market. It is unclear why Gottlieb is resigning, but he seems to be leaving on good terms. After Gottlieb’s announcement, President Donald Trump tweeted that he had done an “absolutely terrific job.”

In other White House personnel news, former acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker resigned from the Justice Department on Saturday. Since the Senate confirmed William Barr to the position permanently last month, Whitaker had worked as a senior counselor in the department. Democrats fiercely criticized Whitaker, the former chief of staff to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, for refusing to recuse himself from overseeing special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. He appeared before a House Judiciary Committee panel on Feb. 8 and denied interfering with the inquiry. —H.P.

Harvest Prude

Harvest is a reporter for WORLD based in Washington, D.C.

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  • Bob R
    Posted: Thu, 03/07/2019 07:22 pm

    Of course Common Cause would claim that "...such a violation would likely be seen as relatively minor."  The are clearly a left-wing group dedicated to support the Democrat Party, who are in part funded by George Soros along with other left-leaning organizations. (See


  • John Kloosterman
    Posted: Fri, 03/08/2019 09:04 am

    Lets be real, even a biased justice system wouldn't bother with more than an initial hearing if there was no evidence, and no lawyer would want to risk taking on the most powerful person in the land, risking a very public humiliation, if there was no case

    It's not even like this came out of nowhere.  I don't know why everyone is surprised and/or shocked by the multiple trials.  Even Trump's supporters knew the man was scum; a big part of their argument was that moral character didn't matter.  He had criminal investigations pending before he even entered the White House.  Half his old campaign staff is currently jailed pending trial and/or have confessed to giving false testimony.  Is it REALLY a surprise that there's enough shady stuff to warrant multiple investigations? because

  • news2me
    Posted: Fri, 03/08/2019 01:33 pm

    You are so right. Did you vote for Hillary?

    She is a saint. Has she been summoned by the POPE yet?

    And her husband sax playing Bill? His picture should be in the dictionary next to #metoo. 

    Actually Hill should be in a jail cell next to one occupied by Obama.

  • news2me
    Posted: Fri, 03/08/2019 01:38 pm

    Not at all surprised by the multiple trials. Not because Trump is corrupt, but because the DEMS ARE CORRUPT!

    Remember PALIN, she had the nerve to run against Obama. She had the nerve to speak out. How dare she question Obama. Wave after wave of frivolous LAWSUITS were filed against her until she got WAY TOO MUCH PRESS time. And people still wanted her to run for president. Now that's funny.



  • Laura W
    Posted: Fri, 03/08/2019 06:51 pm

    Why not both? It's obvious the Democrats hate President Trump, but hasn't he also given them a lot to work with?

  • DS
    Posted: Tue, 03/12/2019 01:19 pm

    News2me, please stop with your remarks on how corrupt the left is. We are all fallen, and all need grace. I believe that REPS ARE just as CORRUPT as DEMS, perhaps even more so because we can't seem to hold a conversation on politics without illegitimately condemning Dems to hell (though we may not say it out loud). REPS and DEMS are both just human. Instead of condemning (which is what the "Holy Roman Empire" physically did, but was unable to spiritually), we should remember what Christ said: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And, behold, I am with you always to the end of the age."

    Also, while Hillary is (technically) a criminal and should be in prison, and while Obama is to blame for many of the problems in America today, I don't think Obama is (technically) a criminal.

  • news2me
    Posted: Fri, 03/08/2019 01:29 pm

    Re: Trump investigations

    Remember when Obama's people went after Sarah Palin with a vengence. His people kept Alaska courts busy with trivial trials against her. Even her friend was not allowed to raise money to help her pay for defense.

    This whole thing is just because he won the election. Or because they were unable to get Hillary what they promised--the White House. 

    It is SO SAD what the liberals are doing to our country. The border has run amuck and they act like it's a joke. They have no money for the safety of America, but they have TRILLIONS for Medicare for all and Sanctuary Cities?

    Medicare IS A JOKE.  The joke is on all the people who buy into that. I am on Medicare. I pay out of my Social Security for Medicare. Didn't I already pay for Medicare for all those years I worked? Did you ask the DC swamp monsters if they will be on Medicare as well? Medicare doesn't pay for that much unless you pay more monthly. They offer all kinds of stuff for MORE MONEY. 

  • John Kloosterman
    Posted: Sun, 03/10/2019 08:49 pm

    Medicare is alive and well after two years of the Republicans controlling both houses and the presidency.  It's the Republican's joke, now.  The border, likewise--if it's such an emergency, why didn't Trump push for it in 2016?  Or 2017?  If the border has run amuck, it's because Republicans have treated it like a joke for two years.

  • DS
    Posted: Tue, 03/12/2019 01:21 pm

    Lets face it, John Kloosterman, border security is one of the few things a president is actually constitutionally required to do.

  •  Xion's picture
    Posted: Wed, 03/13/2019 02:30 am

    Democrats were calling for impeaching Trump even before he took office.  They were calling for impeaching Kavanaugh even before his name was released.  Their signs said "Impeach _______", because they didn't know who it would be.  What exactly would they impeach Trump for other than winning?