Five things we know about Dems' sprawling Trump probe

Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee are beginning to see returns on their sweeping request for documents from 81 individuals and entities as part of a broad inquiry into President TrumpDonald John TrumpWarren defends, Buttigieg attacks in debate that shrank the field Five takeaways from the Democratic debate in Ohio Democrats debate in Ohio: Who came out on top? MORE’s administration, campaign and businesses.

House Democrats are expected to continue pursuing their various investigations, not just on the Judiciary Committee, even with the conclusion of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerFox News legal analyst says Trump call with Ukraine leader could be 'more serious' than what Mueller 'dragged up' Lewandowski says Mueller report was 'very clear' in proving 'there was no obstruction,' despite having 'never' read it Fox's Cavuto roasts Trump over criticism of network MORE’s Russia probe.


The House Judiciary inquiry is seeking information related to any Trump ties to Russia; the hush-money payments made to two women alleging affairs with the president before the election; attempts to influence Trump and his administration through gifts; and several highly scrutinized events that unfolded within the Trump administration.

Here are five things we know about the document dive.

Focus is on Russia 

Russia is a common theme in the majority of document requests. More than 80 percent of the requests ask witnesses to provide the panel with any documents related to contacts between members of the Trump campaign and Moscow.

Another frequent ask was for documents detailing any contacts with WikiLeaks, with roughly 75 percent of recipients receiving requests for records related to “contacts, direct or indirect, from January 1, 2016 to the present between or involving Wikileaks and its officials, agents, intermediaries, and/or instrumentalities.”

Democrats are also scrutinizing several flashpoints they say are evidence of inappropriate communications between members of the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. That includes the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting in which top members of the Trump campaign — including Trump’s eldest son Donald Trump Jr.Donald (Don) John TrumpWhite House condemns violent video Backlash erupts at video depicting Trump killing media, critics WHCA calls on Trump to denounce video depicting him shooting media outlets MORE, his son-in-law Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerButtigieg knocks Trump as a 'walking conflict of interest' Biden's weak response to Trump is a lesson for Democratic candidates Mark Hamill zings Ivanka Trump for 'Star Wars' tweet MORE and campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortRand Paul calls for probe of Democrats over Ukraine letter He who must not be named: How Hunter Biden became a conversation-stopper Schiff should consider using RICO framework to organize impeachment MORE — met with a Kremlin-linked lawyer under the pretenses that she had dirt on the Clinton campaign.

Democrats are circling around the Trump Organization’s discussions to build a Trump Tower in Moscow during the 2016 presidential campaign. The panel has asked four dozen witnesses about their knowledge of the so-called “Moscow Project” as well as “any other proposed or possible real estate development in the Russian Federation by Donald Trump or the Trump Organization” from 2015 to the present.


Scrutiny of those business talks increased after Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael CohenMichael Dean CohenNY prosecutors urge appeals court not to block subpoena for Trump's tax returns Ronan Farrow book: National Enquirer shredded documents related to Trump Trump's tirades, taunts and threats are damaging our democracy MORE admitted in November that the discussions lasted until June 2016, at which point Trump was the presumptive Republican nominee for president.

Many witnesses were also asked why the “Republican Platform 2016” revised its stance on Ukraine. Democrats want to know why the GOP decided to remove language related to providing lethal defensive weapons to Ukraine, among other changes.

Some areas of interest extend from the campaign and into Trump’s presidency, including talks of lifting sanctions on the Kremlin and details related to Trump’s closed-door meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Investigators curious about ties to Middle East money

Democrats want to know about possible ties between Trump and his associates and money from the Middle East.

Tom Barrack, a longtime friend of the president and former chairman of Trump’s inaugural committee, was among those asked to provide information about “Trump Campaign or Trump Transition contacts or communications with, or on behalf of, or regarding Russia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, or Saudi Arabia.”

The inaugural committee’s events caught the attention of federal investigators after a number of prominent foreign business leaders, many from Russia, attended. Federal prosecutors are believed to be examining whether foreign nations sought to gain access to the Trump administration to influence U.S. policy.

Barrack, who has conducted business with princes in the Persian Gulf for decades, played a pivotal role in introducing Kushner to prominent rulers in the region as the president’s son-in-law  was gearing up to serve as a presidential envoy to the Middle East.

Kushner was also asked to turn over such information. Kushner’s lawyer Abbe Lowell did not respond to requests for comment on whether his client plans to cooperate with the Judiciary Committee’s requests, but a committee source told The Hill he has indicated he plans to provide documents.

George Nader, a Lebanese-American businessman who previously advised a former ruler of the UAE, was also asked to provide information about “any foreign governments discussing, offering, or providing, or being solicited to discuss, offer, or provide, any present or emolument of any kind” to Trump, and any of his associates or businesses.

Nader, who is cooperating with federal investigators, indicated to Trump Jr. during the 2016 election that Saudi Arabia and the UAE supported Trump and wanted to offer their assistance to his campaign, according to reports.

Others like Blackwater founder Erik Prince and onetime White House national security adviser Michael Flynn were also asked in the documents requests about such contacts.

Hope HicksHope Charlotte HicksTrump: 'Top shows' on Fox News, cable are 'Fair (or great)' to me Trump criticizes Fox, which 'isn't working for us anymore' Sarah Huckabee Sanders becomes Fox News contributor MORE's diary is of interest

Democrats are asking for the contents of the diary Hope Hicks kept while she worked on the communications team for both the campaign and White House.

Their efforts suggest plans to obtain and review documents that may have meticulously detailed day-to-day events that unfolded in the administration.

Democrats are also seeking records from several other former White House officials who they believe kept detailed accounts of day-to-day meetings and interactions. 

Annie Donaldson, former White House counsel Don McGahn’s former deputy, is one such person. Democrats asked about McGahn’s involvement in the controversy that ultimately forced Flynn to leave the White House -- revelations that he had misled Vice President Pence and other senior administration officials about his communications with Russian diplomats.

Former White House press secretary Sean SpicerSean Michael SpicerWhite House condemns violent video Trump calls for votes for Spicer on 'Dancing With The Stars' Ex-Trump officials met with Zelensky campaign aides at Trump hotel earlier this year: report MORE is also on their list.

They want him to turn over “any personal or work notebook, journal, or other book containing notes, a record or a description of daily events related to your employment by the Executive Office of the President.”

Dems are targeting the Trump Organization

Democrats are targeting the Trump Organization by going after several of the company’s top executives.

The Judiciary panel has asked at least four executive vice presidents of the organization to provide information about the firm’s business dealings, including the president’s two eldest sons, Trump Jr. and Eric TrumpEric Frederick TrumpThe Hill's Morning Report — Arrest of Giuliani associates triggers many questions Trump bashes Biden at Minnesota rally, asks 'Where's Hunter?' 'Off-script' Trump rails against impeachment, Democrats at feisty rally MORE.

The Trump Organization’s chief legal counsel and chief financial officer, Alan Garten and Weisselberg, respectively, received document requests, in addition to the Trump Organization itself. Employees were also asked to provide documents related to the hush-money payments made to women alleging affairs with Trump. He has denied the accusations.

Cohen’s public testimony before the House Oversight and Reform Committee in February increased Democrats’ appetite to hear from Trump Organization executives after the president’s former “fixer” said Weisselberg and other top employees would be able to corroborate his allegations about the president's business dealings.

Cohen identified what he described as Weisselberg's signature on a check that he says he received as part of a reimbursement for a payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election.

Cohen has also asserted that Weisselberg, who has worked at the Trump Organization for decades, knew Trump was allegedly inflating his assets to an insurance company.

Rhona Graff, who was Trump’s longtime secretary at the Trump Organization, is also being asked to turn over documents.

Democrats want the employees to provide documents related to the organization’s discussions about building a Trump Tower in Moscow, as well as any “any loan, financing transaction, or capital investment by the Russian Federation, any Russian national, any Russian business, or any other Russian entity to the Trump Organization, Donald Trump, Ivanka TrumpIvana (Ivanka) Marie TrumpBiden praises Buttigieg for criticizing GOP attacks: 'That's a good man' Buttigieg knocks Trump as a 'walking conflict of interest' Stephen Miller defends Trump, accuses Democrats of 'witch hunt part two' MORE, Jared Kushner, or any of their Business Interests.”

It is unclear if the organization or its employees will cooperate with the requests. A lawyer for Trump Jr. and the Trump Organization did not respond to The Hill’s request for comment.

Dems want to know if Trump is profiting from presidency

Another common thread running through the documents requests is whether Trump and his inner circle are profiting from his time in public office.

Democrats, while they are hyper-focused on foreign attempts to influence policy, are also focused on any entities that are trying to curry favor with Trump, his family and his administration through gifts.

More than half of all the panel’s requests asks recipients to provide information on whether “any U.S. federal, state, or local domestic government” suggested, offered, or provided “any emoluments” to Trump, Kushner, Ivanka Trump, any of their businesses, and the 58th Presidential Inaugural Committee after the 2016 election concluded.

Similarly, the same number of recipients were asked whether “any foreign government discussing, offering, or providing, or being solicited to discuss, offer, or provide, any present or emolument of any kind.”

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerBarr to speak at Notre Dame law school on Friday The 13 House Democrats who back Kavanaugh's impeachment Ignore the hype — this is not an impeachment inquiry MORE (D-N.Y.) has been active in this space.

In 2017, he joined roughly 200 other lawmakers to sue Trump in federal court, alleging that the president had violated the emoluments clause of the Constitution by accepting foreign funds through the Trump Organization without congressional approval.

Foreign and domestic government officials have frequently stayed at Trump-owned hotels and properties, which has increased scrutiny among critics since the Constitution prohibits presidents from accepting gifts from foreign and domestic governments.