House Democrats ramp up investigations of Trump

House Democrats ramp up investigations of Trump
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Top Democrats on Sunday expressed a renewed sense of urgency over investigations into President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump: 'I will not let Iran have nuclear weapons' Rocket attack hits Baghdad's Green Zone amid escalating tensions: reports Buttigieg on Trump tweets: 'I don't care' MORE regarding his finances and potential obstruction of justice in the wake of explosive testimony from the president's ex-attorney, Michael Cohen.

The Democratic chairmen of two House committees argued that there is already evidence Trump is guilty of collusion and obstruction of justice, despite Republican denials.

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House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), whose committee would oversee impeachment proceedings in the House, said Democrats will look further into abuses of power, corruption and obstruction of justice involving the president. His committee is requesting documents from more than 60 people close to or within the administration starting on Monday.

The congressman said it's "very clear" that Trump obstructed justice, but stopped short of saying such an offense would automatically trigger impeachment proceedings. 

Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffSchiff: Impeachment proceedings could be 'tool' to get information, evidence Schiff: Escalating Iran tensions 'all too predictable' 5 things to watch as Trump, Dems clash over investigations MORE (D-Calif.), who heads the House Intelligence Committee, said "there is direct evidence" the Trump campaign colluded with Russia, citing a 2016 Trump Tower meeting where a Russian lawyer promised damaging information on Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDe Blasio pitches himself as tough New Yorker who can take on 'Don the con' From dive bars to steakhouses: How Iowa caucus staffers blow off steam Warren policy ideas show signs of paying off MORE. He added it is not evidence the president engaged in a criminal conspiracy and said he looked forward to additional investigation.

As Democrats laid out the road map for how to move forward following Cohen's appearance in front of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, they were cautious not to overcommit on any possible impeachment proceedings, a debate that has dogged the caucus.

"Impeachment is a long way down the road," Nadler said on ABC's "This Week." He denied that his committee's investigation is an "impeachment investigation."

Since regaining control of the House in January, Democratic leaders have tried to contain calls for impeachment from within their ranks, insisting any such proceedings must be done with bipartisan support. Some progressive lawmakers have pushed for impeachment, and even voted for such proceedings during the last Congress.

Cohen's hearing reshuffled that debate, with some lawmakers saying his testimony could lead to impeachment. Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiPelosi receives John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award Dems walk Trump trade tightrope Tlaib calls on Amash to join impeachment resolution MORE (D-Calif.) has brushed speculation aside, calling impeachment a "divisive issue" and adopting a wait-and-see approach.

Nadler and other influential Democrats have instead focused on fleshing out the allegations that Cohen raised last week.

"We have to do the investigations and get all this," Nadler said. "We do not now have the evidence all sorted out and everything to do an impeachment. Before you impeach somebody, you have to persuade the American public that it ought to happen."

Nadler's committee on Monday will pursue information from Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg and Donald Trump Jr.Donald (Don) John TrumpUkraine's top prosecutor says no evidence of wrongdoing by Bidens New financial disclosure forms provide glimpses of Trump's wealth Trump's Doral resort revenue has dropped since presidential campaign: report MORE, among others.

Schiff said on CBS's "Face the Nation" that his panel will seek information on negotiations to develop a Trump Tower in Moscow.

Cohen, who pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the timing of discussions surrounding the property, spoke with the House Intelligence Committee last week and will return for another round of private questioning on Wednesday.

Felix Sater, a Russian-born businessman who worked with Cohen to move the real estate project forward, is scheduled to testify publicly before the House Intelligence Committee on March 14.

Schiff additionally expressed a desire to speak with Weisselberg, Trump Organization accountants, and Deutsche Bank and other financial institutions that have done business with the the president's family business.

"There are any number of witnesses that can shed light on whether America's national security is compromised because the president has been pursuing financial interests with the Russians," Schiff said on CBS.

Cohen told lawmakers last Wednesday that Trump engaged directly in a scheme to silence women during the 2016 campaign who alleged they had affairs with him. Cohen previously pleaded guilty to two campaign finance law violations related to the scheme.

The president's longtime attorney further asserted that Trump inflated or deflated his assets for business and tax purposes, naming Weisselberg and others as potential sources of corroboration.

While Cohen, who is facing a three-year prison sentence beginning in May, implicated the president in potentially criminal activity, top Democrats are largely focusing on the treasure trove of leads he presented.

Schiff said lawmakers should await the final findings of both congressional investigations and special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE's probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election before determining whether certain crimes rise to the level of removal from office.

"I think that we're waiting for the facts," Rep. Debbie DingellDeborah (Debbie) Ann DingellDems walk Trump trade tightrope Pompeo, Army chief of staff attend ceremony honoring Bob Dole Nearly 40 percent of species worldwide face extinction — unless we reverse wildlife crisis MORE (D-Mich.), a member of House Democratic leadership, said on "Fox News Sunday."

"And I do not think an impeachment should ever be a partisan event," she added. "I think we need to have Republicans and Democrats or it will tear this country apart. It's a very serious movement. But that's why oversight's a legitimate function. This investigation is a legitimate function."

Pelosi faces a difficult political landscape should she indicate support for impeachment, as such an effort would likely fail in the GOP-held Senate and could embolden Trump and his supporters.

Trump and Republicans have wielded talk of impeachment as a political cudgel, and revived that strategy following Cohen's remarks.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyOn The Money: Treasury rejects Dem subpoena for Trump tax returns | Companies warn trade war about to hit consumers | Congress, White House to launch budget talks next week | Trump gets deal to lift steel tariffs on Mexico, Canada Congressional leaders to launch budget talks with White House RNC chair on Alabama abortion bill: I would have exceptions for rape, incest MORE (R-Calif.) on Sunday accused Nadler of wanting to impeach Trump "the day the president won the election," and insisted on "This Week" that the president has yet to commit an impeachable offense.

Trump, who previously warned that Americans would "revolt" if he were removed from office, has lashed out in the days since Cohen's testimony.

He has decried his longtime associate as a liar, and in a freewheeling, two-hour speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference on Saturday took aim at the investigators examining his presidency.

“There’s no collusion, so now they go and morph into ‘let’s inspect every deal he’s ever done. We’re going to go into his finances, we’re going to check his deals,' " Trump told the audience. "These people are sick. They’re sick."

“Unfortunately you put the wrong people in a couple of positions, and they leave people for a long time that shouldn’t be there, and all of the sudden they’re trying to take you out with bullshit.”