If they win a majority in November, Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives will re-open the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. They would like to investigate a lot of other things about Donald Trump also, including his family, his business associates and his cabinet members. But they will have to be selective in what they investigate, according to experts on the subject.
And the top Democrat on the House intelligence Committee, California Rep. Adam Schiff, said he and other Democratic committee chairmen would have to “ruthlessly prioritize the most important matters first.”
The House Intelligence Committee, chaired by GOP Rep. Devin Nunes of California, was investigating Russian meddling, but its investigation closed with Republicans saying they found no evidence of collusion between Russia and President Donald Trump’s campaign.
Democrats like Schiff, however, have expressed their opinions that the GOP members in charge had overlooked many important facts and witnesses. They said that to get to the truth they will need to open up the investigation if they win House control.
Other Democrats have said they have concerns about investigating too much because they could pay a price politically if the public believes they are over reaching.
Schiff and other Democrats have made clear that they are closely watching special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. They also have been staying on top of the Senate’s Russia probe and have identified areas where there are gaps that they could fill with their own investigation. And if Mueller issues a report or any additional special counsel findings are made public, their plans would have to change.
“My sense is that we want to be precise,” says California Rep. Eric Swalwell, another Democratic member of the intelligence committee.
Here are some of the key issues that Democrats plan to investigate if they win the House majority and are able to take control of House committees:
Schiff indicated that a priority for Democrats will be investigating whether Russians laundered money through the Trump Organization.
Trump’s businesses have benefited from Russian investment over the years. Schiff said he wants to know whether “this is the leverage that the Russians have” over Trump. The House Financial Services Committee may also investigate Trump money laundering, which also may be a subject of Mueller’s probe.
DONALD TRUMP JR.
Democrats want more information about the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., and communications with his father that took place before and after the June 2016 meeting between Trump campaign officials and a Russian lawyer.
Democrats also want to look into direct messages on Twitter between Trump Jr. and WikiLeaks concerning hacked Democratic emails.
Democrats will ask to see copies of Trump’s tax returns through the House Ways and Means Committee. They hope that seeing Trump’s taxes will reveal information about his financial relationships with other countries.
COLLUSION WITH RUSSIA
Democrats on the intelligence panel have conducted some of their own investigations and have made some progress in probing Cambridge Analytica, a data analytics firm once employed by the Trump campaign that improperly gained access to data from millions of social media profiles. They will likely want to continue these lines of investigation.
If Democrats get back in charge they will make other changes. They will take steps to protect Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation, and they will also want to bring in dozens of more witnesses that the Republicans did not even talk to during their investigation.
Finally, many Democrats say that their hearings should be open to the public. All of the Republican hearings have been very secretive and closed so that nobody really knew what was going on. The Democrats say that this will change if they are in power. They believe in openness and transparency, two things that have been on very short supply in a Congress completely controlled by Republicans.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.