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Congressional Committee Investigations into Trump

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#81

Looks like Nadler is suggesting stricter punishment for those who do not corporate with a subpoena.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-04-24/democrats-weigh-fines-for-trump-officials-who-spurn-subpoenas

At a meeting of House leaders earlier this month, Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler suggested fining officials personally if they deny or ignore subpoenas, according to a person who attended the meeting. Nadler’s idea, the person said, was to put teeth in his party’s numerous investigative queries, many of which Trump officials are stonewalling or simply ignoring.

Nadler even mentioned jailing administration officials as a consequence for contempt of Congress, though he surmised such a plan might be unrealistic, added the person, who requested anonymity to discuss a closed-door session. The person said the idea surprised many in the room but seemed to have been researched as a serious option by Nadler or his staff.


#82

Ok this is interesting. Jim Jordan wrote a letter to Kline asking him to testify voluntarily against the wishes of the Committee Chairman Cummings. The White House had previously offered for Kline to testify voluntarily but “had objected to some lines of inquiry, namely over the process taken for individuals’ security clearances.”

That’s a legit catch 22. The whole reason for Kline to testify is to talk about the process of granting WH security clearances. Which is why Cummings issued subpoena in the first place.

Rep. Jim Jordan, the top Republican on the House Oversight Committee, is seeking to resolve a tense dispute between Democrats and the White House as part of the panel’s review of the Trump administration’s security clearance process.

In a letter obtained by CNN and dated Friday, Jordan is asking White House counsel Pat Cipollone to allow former official Carl Kline to sit down for a voluntary transcribed interview to avoid a growing constitutional clash between the two branches of government. The move comes after the White House instructed Kline, who now works at the Defense Department, to defy a subpoena because Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings would not allow a White House attorney to attend Kline’s deposition, citing committee rules.

Cummings is now threatening to hold Kline in contempt, which Jordan says in his letter could happen as soon as Tuesday.

[…]

Kline had initially offered to testify voluntarily, which Jordan alludes to in his letter, and the GOP has been sharply critical of Cummings for not taking that offer. But the White House had objected to some lines of inquiry, namely over the process taken for individuals’ security clearances, prompting the subpoena from the Democratic-led committee.


#83

Thanks @matt


#84

Cummings was absolutely correct to issue a subpoena and will be just correct when he holds Kline in contempt. As you point out, @Pet_Proletariat, if Kline is going to come in to answer questions voluntarily about everything except what the committee really wants and needs to know (the process by which he overrode career professionals to issue so many questionable security clearances), then why have him come in at all?

And to confirm this, we only need to look at Mnuchin’s arrogant refusal to answer Maxine Water’s questions when he came in to testify before her committee. During his tantrum, the main point he tried to assert was that he was testifying voluntarily so he should have the right to walk out at any time. If you haven’t seen the video, I highly recommend it. It clearly demonstrates what the House committees are up against as Trump’s team digs in and stonewalls any attempt at finding the truth.

I also hope that from this point forward, anyone testifying does so under oath. I’ve heard it argued that placing someone under oath at a congressional hearing is just a formality since lying to Congress is a crime whether you’re under oath or not, but I think it’s an important formality – it’s political theater that Trump supporters might actually understand. It’s typical of Trump supporters to say of a witness who is accused of lying, “well, he wasn’t under oath so it doesn’t matter.” We cannot give Trump supporters one millimeter of wiggle room.


#85

It’s illegal to lie to Congress. Full stop.

Federal law makes it a crime to “knowingly and willfully” give “materially” false statements to Congress, even if unsworn – which is not to be confused with the more general crime of perjury for lying under oath.

The consequences for either crime are serious: one can face up to five years in prison.

Like many criminal statutes, however, proving a witness “knowingly” sought to mislead sets a high bar for prosecution – meaning the omission can’t be merely a mistake or accident. And the “materiality” requirement means the false statement has to actually matter – i.e., a tendency to influence the listener.

While it is rare to see charges filed for lying to Congress, there is precedent.


#86

The White House indicated late Friday it would make former security clearance boss Carl Kline available to interview with the House Oversight Committee on May 1, but only under strict limits on his testimony that Democrats are all but certain to reject.

“[W]e understand the scope of the interview will be limited to White House personnel security policies and practices, consistent with our prior offers for Mr. Kline’s voluntary cooperation with the Committee,” White House counsel Pat Cipollone wrote in the letter to the committee’s top Republican, Rep. Jim Jordan.

[…]

Democrats have been demanding Kline’s testimony following a whistleblower’s complaint that Kline overruled career staffers to approve high-level security clearances for top White House personnel, even though their applications had been flagged as national security risks. But until late Friday, the White House had ordered Kline to refuse to appear, and Kline’s attorney Robert Driscoll indicated that Kline intended to defer to his employer’s wishes.

Cummings aides did not respond to requests for comment but it’s unlikely he’ll accept the terms offered by the White House. In addition to restricting Kline’s testimony to general “policies and practices” of the security clearance office, Cipollone also indicated he expected to have a lawyer on his team present in the room, a demand that Democrats have not agreed to and that they’ve argued conflicts with the committee’s past practice.


#87

AG, Barr is now threatening to not show up to give his testimony to the House Judiciary Committee because he doesn’t agree with Chairman Nadler’s line of questioning.

:open_book::pushpin: Reader Reminder: The House Judiciary Committee, has the authority to launch impeachment investigations, not only into the President but anyone appointed by the President, even the Attorney General.

Attorney General William Barr has warned Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee he won’t show up to this week’s highly anticipated hearing if they stick to the format the chairman has proposed for the questioning, according to a committee source with knowledge of the matter.

Skipping this week’s hearing would amount to a dramatic escalation in the growing fight between the Trump administration and House Democrats over a range of oversight requests, including over access to the unredacted report from special counsel Robert Mueller, the subject of Thursday’s hearing.

But it’s still possible they could reach a deal by Thursday, meaning Barr might ultimately show.

House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler told CNN on Sunday morning that Barr would not "dictate the format of the Judiciary Committee."


#88

Follow up:

This language indicates to me that the Republicans on the committee are pushing Democrats to open a formal Impeachment Investigation, instead of using the committees investigations in their original oversight capacity. Republicans don’t want a check on the White House.


#89

“Based on the record before us, I am confident that the Committee could move forward with contempt against you immediately, particularly since your defiance of the Committee’s subpoena was so flagrant,” Cummings wrote to Kline in a Saturday letter obtained by POLITICO. “However, I have always endeavored to be as fair as possible in the pursuit of truth, particularly with witnesses who are willing to come before the Committee.”

Cummings’ decision is an eleventh-hour attempt to avert the most serious confrontation yet between congressional investigators and the Trump administration and follows a last-minute effort initiated by the Oversight committee’s top Republican, Rep. Jim Jordan.

Cummings issued a subpoena for Kline’s testimony earlier this month, requiring his testimony Tuesday. But Kline skipped his scheduled deposition after the White House advised him not to appear. That decision led Cummings to take early steps toward holding Kline in contempt — a move he said Saturday is still on the table if Kline isn’t forthcoming during his interview.


#90

The big news here is that the committee has announced it will be going ahead with its plan to have a lawyer question Barr. In the article below, “committee staff” refers to a seasoned attorney.

A key House committee with the power to impeach President Donald Trump is moving ahead with a Thursday hearing to question Attorney General William Barr about the Mueller report, even if the attorney general doesn’t show.

The standoff took its latest turn Monday when the Judiciary Committee formally announced plans to hold a Wednesday morning vote that would authorize the panel’s Democratic and GOP counsels to split an hour of additional questioning about the special counsel’s findings on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

DOJ officials have objected to committee staff asking Barr questions in public about the Mueller report, setting the stage for an explosive hearing Thursday. Democrats say that if the attorney general fails to appear, they’ll issue a subpoena for his testimony.

“The witness is not going to tell the committee how to conduct its hearing, period,” Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) told CNN on Sunday.

DOJ spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said Barr was the one who volunteered to testify before Congress about the Mueller report. “Therefore, members of Congress should be the ones doing the questioning,” she said. “He remains happy to engage with members on their questions regarding the Mueller report.”

Republicans on the Judiciary Committee are taking Barr’s side, arguing there’s no precedent for committee staffers to question an attorney general.

But Democrats have pointed to past instances in which a cabinet official has taken questions from aides during a hearing, most notably when then-Attorney General Edwin Meese was questioned on Capitol Hill about the Iran-Contra scandal in 1987. Democrats said committee staffers have questioned witnesses during the Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton impeachment hearings, too.

Staffers also participated in interviews of former FBI Director James Comey and former Attorney General Loretta Lynch when Republicans were in control for the first two years of the Trump presidency.

As the article points out, there is plenty of precedent for this. Republicans are flat out lying when they claim otherwise. Judiciary stand strong! :muscle:


#91

President Donald Trump and his family are suing Deutsche Bank and Capital One to block subpoenas issued by House Democrats seeking Trump’s financial records.

In the lawsuit filed Monday in New York, Trump’s lawyers argued that the subpoenas serve “no legitimate or lawful purpose.”

[…]

In a joint statement, House Financial Services Chair Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said it was a “meritless lawsuit” that was not designed to succeed — but was "only designed to put off meaningful accountability as long as possible.

"As a private businessman, Trump routinely used his well-known litigiousness and the threat of lawsuits to intimidate others, but he will find that Congress will not be deterred from carrying out its constitutional responsibilities," they said.

Deutsche Bank, a German lender, said in a statement that it was "committed to providing appropriate information to all authorized investigations and will abide by a court order regarding such investigations.”

[…]

The Oversight Committee said it needs the documents in order to corroborate testimony from former Trump attorney and fixer Michael Cohen, who alleged that the president artificially inflated and deflated the value of his assets for his personal benefit.

During an explosive public hearing in February, Cohen disclosed copies of Trump’s financial statements which he said were turned over to Deutsche Bank as Trump was seeking a loan to place a bid on the Buffalo Bills NFL team. Those statements, according to Cohen, contained false information.


#92

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says Attorney General William Barr will be “obstructing Congress” if he chooses not to appear before the House Judiciary Committee.

Barr is scheduled to testify Thursday about special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, but is resisting the committee’s push to have staffers conduct a round of questioning.

Pelosi says the attorney general or any other witnesses can’t “tell the committee how to conduct its interviews.”

She adds, “The attorney general of the United States is not the president’s personal lawyer, and he should act as the attorney general of the United States and honor his responsibilities.”

A redacted version of Mueller’s report was released to the public April 19. Democrats have subpoenaed the Justice Department for the full report and the underlying evidence.


#93


I’m adding this CNN reporting to highlight the following paragraph:

The lawsuit in New York claims that the subpoenas the House Intelligence Committee and House Financial Services Committee sent to Deutsche Bank and Capital One aren’t valid because they violate banking privacy law and they are not for shaping legislation. Yet at least one other court has said previously that claims like those can’t stop congressional subpoenas.

CNN is referring to Fusion GPS’s attempt to block TD Bank from turning over its financial records to Congress. They made the same arguments that Trump’s lawyers are making and they lost. Period. And it’s important to note that it was a Republican controlled House Committee that set this precedent. Now that the Democrats are in control, they have every right to take the same steps in their investigations of Trump’s finances. There is ample probable cause – for example, Michael Cohen’s testimony (backed up by documentation) that Trump committed insurance fraud and bank fraud.

Here’s some excerpts from the January, 2018, CNN article about Fusion GPS’s failed litigation to stop Republicans from obtaining its bank records:

The financial records that Fusion GPS fought for months to keep out of the hands of Congress have been turned over, according to a new court filing.

TD Bank “has produced all remaining responsive documents” to the House Intelligence Committee under the terms of a confidential settlement, a lawyer for the House wrote Friday afternoon.

Fusion GPS had argued that handing over those 70 documents in response to a subpoena from the House committee’s Russia investigators could reveal its clients, hinder its business and step on its First Amendment rights. Fusion GPS said that once the committee had the documents, its clients’ names and financial details would be likely to leak.

Before the handover of documents Friday, a federal judge [Judge Richard Leon, U.S. District Court, DC] had disagreed with Fusion GPS’ protests, and the company pledged to appeal.


#94

First Criminal Referral comes out of the House Intel Committee for Eric Prince. Congress believes he lied when he said the Seychelles meeting with the Russian financier happened by chance.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) said Tuesday that his panel would make a criminal referral to the Justice Department regarding potential false testimony by Erik Prince, the billionaire founder of the private military contractor Blackwater and an ally of President Trump.

“The evidence is so weighty that the Justice Department needs to consider this,” Schiff said during a Washington Post Live event.

Among other things, Schiff pointed to a meeting that took place nine days before Trump took office between Prince and a Russian financier close to Russian President Vladi­mir Putin in the Seychelles islands.

Prince later told congressional officials examining Russia’s interference in the presidential election that the meeting happened by chance and was not taken at the behest of the incoming administration — testimony that congressional Democrats now think was false.


#95

:smirk:

Rep. Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has hired Patrick Fallon, former chief of the FBI’s Financial Crimes Section, according to two sources familiar with the move.

It’s a significant hire that will bring expertise to the committee’s efforts to scrutinize President Donald Trump’s financial dealings. A committee source told The Daily Beast that Fallon started this week.

Schiff announced earlier this year that the committee will look at Trump’s finances to see if his personal interests are influencing his decisions as president. “That pertains to any credible allegations of leverage by the Russians or the Saudis or anyone else,” he said, according to CNN.

Frank Figliuzzi, former Assistant Director of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division, called Fallon’s hiring significant.

“The fact that the Committee has hired someone at the former senior executive service level from within the FBI’s Financial Crimes Section is significant, and to me denotes an effort to apply significant resources to examining and analyzing financial findings,” Figliuzzi said. “By the time you got to the head of the Financial Crimes section, you would have substantial white collar crime and global financial crime experience, both at the street level and the supervisory level. And his role at headquarters would have had him overseeing the bulk of all financial crime cases in the FBI.”


#96

I love it when there is more news than I can find by my lonesome! Thanks @matt


(Matt Kiser) #97

No! Thank you for maintaining this thread! Super useful and important! :slight_smile:


#98

You’re welcome. I made it for all to use. House Committee news is really confusing but it’s where the action is right now.

I’m hoping to update the header every Tuesday or as I have time but keep the thread below it breaking news 24/7.


#99

Header has been updated.


#100

:hugs:

Democrats in Congress can move ahead with their lawsuit against President Trump alleging that his private business violates the Constitution’s ban on gifts or payments from foreign governments, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.

The decision in Washington from U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan adopted a broad definition of the anti-corruption ban and could set the stage for Democratic lawmakers to begin seeking information from the Trump Organization. The Justice Department can try to delay or block the process by asking an appeals court to intervene.

The lawsuit is one of two landmark cases against Trump relying on the once-obscure emoluments clauses of the Constitution.

In a case brought in Maryland by the attorneys general of D.C. and Maryland, Justice Department lawyers representing the president have succeeded in temporarily blocking subpoenas for financial records and other documents related to Trump’s D.C. hotel.

[…]

Led by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), the Democrats filed their suit last year asking the court to force Trump to stop accepting payments they consider violations of the Constitution’s foreign emoluments clause. They say the provision was designed to guard against undue influence by foreign governments by barring any “emolument” — meaning a gift or payment — without prior approval from Congress.