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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 RogersDemocrats slam DHS chief for defying subpoena for testimony on worldwide threats Remembering 9/11 as we evaluate today's emerging threats Hillicon Valley: Tech CEOs brace for House grilling | Senate GOP faces backlash over election funds | Twitter limits Trump Jr.'s account 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 SchiffGreenwald slams Schiff over Biden emails on Fox Hillicon Valley: DOJ accuses Russian hackers of targeting 2018 Olympics, French elections | Federal commission issues recommendations for securing critical tech against Chinese threats | House Democrats slam FCC over 'blatant attempt to help' Trump Federal commission issues recommendations for securing critical tech against Chinese threats 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 CohenMichael Cohen writing second book on Trump administration's Justice Department Bruce Ohr retires from DOJ Trump again asks Supreme Court to shield tax records 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 TrumpBiden holds massive cash advantage over Trump ahead of Election Day Tax records show Trump maintains a Chinese bank account: NYT Trump plays video of Biden, Harris talking about fracking at Pennsylvania rally 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 NunesSunday shows preview: Coronavirus cases surge in the Midwest; Trump hits campaign trail after COVID-19 Democrat Arballo gains on Nunes: internal poll Sunday shows preview: Trump COVID-19 diagnosis rocks Washington, 2020 election 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 NelsonSenate Democrats want to avoid Kavanaugh 2.0 Democrats sound alarm on possible election chaos Trump, facing trouble in Florida, goes all in MORE (D-Fla.) and Saxby ChamblissClarence (Saxby) Saxby ChamblissLobbying world GOP lobbyist tapped for White House legislative affairs The Hill's Morning Report - Gillibrand drops out as number of debaters shrinks 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.