Ex-House Intel chair: Intel panel is wrong forum to investigate Trump's finances

Ex-House Intel chair: Intel panel is wrong forum to investigate Trump's finances
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The former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said Monday that he doesn’t believe the panel should be conducting an investigation into the president’s finances, saying other House committees are better suited to run a financial probe.

Former Rep. Mike RogersMichael (Mike) Dennis RogersHillicon Valley: Warren takes on Facebook over political ads | Zuckerberg defends meetings with conservatives | Civil liberties groups sound alarm over online extremism bill Civil liberties groups sound alarm over online extremism bill Extremists find new home in online app Telegram MORE (R-Mich.), who led the panel from 2011 to 2015, said at an event hosted by the Michael V. Hayden Center for Intelligence, Policy and International Security that he thinks the committee should focus more on oversight for intelligence issues. 

“I feel pretty strongly that the intelligence committee is not the place to be investigating finances of ‘fill in the blank,’” Rogers said.

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He said that he knows “for a fact” that the committee in its current state is not conducting the kind of oversight for the intelligence community that it should be, suggesting that it is distracted by related topics that are better left to be probed by other areas of Congress.

The House Intelligence Committee, now headed by chairman Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffSchiff punches back after GOP censure resolution fails Trump urges GOP to fight for him House rejects GOP measure censuring Schiff MORE (D-Calif.), is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election.

A Democratic committee aide confirmed to The Hill late last month that the panel is planning on calling Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg in for questioning, after Trump’s former attorney Michael CohenMichael Dean CohenTrump offers condolences on frequent foe Cummings: 'Very hard, if not impossible, to replace' Elijah Cummings, Democratic chairman and powerful Trump critic, dies at 68 Schiff says committees will eventually make impeachment inquiry transcripts public MORE repeatedly referenced Weisselberg during a public hearing with the House Oversight Committee.

Cohen, who spent two days privately interviewing with the House Intelligence Committee in recent weeks, had repeatedly cited Weisselberg in his testimony implicating the president in a plot to make hush-money payments to two women alleging affairs with President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says he doesn't want NYT in the White House Veterans group backs lawsuits to halt Trump's use of military funding for border wall Schiff punches back after GOP censure resolution fails MORE ahead of the 2016 election.

Former Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.), who served as ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee for eight years in the 2000s, noted that there were “abuses or misbehaviors” under Republican leadership during the previous leadership.

Former committee chairman Rep. Devin NunesDevin Gerald Nunes10 top Republicans who continue to deny the undeniable A Republican Watergate veteran's perspective on a Trump impeachment Meet the lawyer at center of whistleblower case: 'It is an everyday adventure' MORE (R-Calif.) recused himself from the Russia probe after it was revealed he made a private trip to the White House to view documents he said showed the inappropriate unmasking of transition team officials. His decision to share information with the White House was considered proof of his bias.

Harman, now serving as president and CEO of the Wilson Center, said that the current effort to conduct investigations like that into the president’s finances could be “an overcorrection.”

But she said that she believes there will be some “course corrections” to bring bipartisanship back to the intelligence panel.

Both former Republican and Democratic leaders of the House and Senate intelligence panels, including former Sens. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonBottom Line Bottom Line Media and candidates should be ashamed that they don't talk about obesity MORE (D-Fla.) and Saxby ChamblissClarence (Saxby) Saxby ChamblissThe Hill's Morning Report - Gillibrand drops out as number of debaters shrinks Hoekstra emerges as favorite for top intelligence post Republicans say Democrats holding up disaster relief as 'Sandy payback' MORE (R-Ga.), also indicated at the event that they believed the House committee has become too partisan and political.

“I think it’s dysfunctional at a very high level,” Rogers said of the panel in its current form.

And Harman said that while lawmakers on the intelligence committee shouldn’t necessarily seek press attention about their investigative work, it appears that current House members are using the high-profile nature of the current Russia probes to their advantage.

“The House is a perpetual election machine,” she said, adding that the lawmakers “want to hit the microphones and be visible, and there’s pressure to do that.”

“And when some of them do that it’s pressure on others” to do the same, Harman added.