While Robert Mueller’s investigation has so far been thorough and far-reaching, Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff – the soon-to-be chairman of the House Intelligence Committee – is preparing to dig into the president’s criminal activity in a way that could make the current special counsel probe look like child’s play.
During an interview with The New Yorker, “Schiff talked about his plans for conducting an investigation that will be parallel to Mueller’s, probing Trump’s connections to Russia, Saudi Arabia, and other places around the world.”
The New Yorker added: “As Schiff described his approach, it became clear that he wasn’t just planning to cross Trump’s red line—he intended to obliterate it.”
Schiff said that the role of the committee he will soon lead “is not the same as Bob Mueller’s.” Instead, he believes that in addition to finding criminal activity, Congress has an added responsibility to make the public aware of any corruption or wrongdoing.
“The American people have a right to know that their President is working on their behalf, not his family’s financial interests,” the powerful Democratic congressman told The New Yorker. “Right now, I don’t think any of us can have the confidence that that’s the case.”
More from The New Yorker:
Congressional committees, like the one Schiff will soon lead, are supposed to monitor the executive branch and expose wrongdoing. Mueller is supposed to file a report on his findings, but, in keeping with the regulations for the office of the special counsel, it will be up to his supervisor in the Justice Department, who is now Matthew Whitaker, the acting Attorney General, to determine whether Mueller’s report is made public. Schiff has his own agenda for areas to investigate. “The one that has always concerned me is the financial issues, which obviously have come much to the fore this week,” he said. Shortly before Schiff and I spoke, Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal attorney, had pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about his role in the negotiations for building a Trump tower in Moscow. Cohen had said earlier that these discussions ended in January, 2016, but he admitted in court that he had been negotiating with Russian officials, and keeping Trump apprised, through the first half of 2016, during the Republican Presidential primaries. Trump has denied that he was doing business with the Russians during this period.
Schiff went on, “At the end of the day, what should concern us most is anything that can have a continuing impact on the foreign policy and national-security policy of the United States, and, if the Russians were laundering money for the Trump Organization, that would be totally compromising.” Schiff hypothesizes that Trump went beyond using his campaign and the Presidency as a vehicle for advancing his business interests, speculating that he may have shaped policy with an eye to expanding his fortune. “There’s a whole constellation of issues where that is essentially the center of gravity,” Schiff said. “Obviously, that issue is implicated in efforts to build Trump Tower in Moscow. It’s implicated in the money that Trump is bragging he was getting from the Saudis. And why shouldn’t he love the Saudis? He said he was making so much money from them.”
Everything will be on the table in Schiff’s investigation
The special counsel probe has turned up a lot of so-called witches over the past couple of years and it appears to be zeroing in on Trump and his family in a way that has the White House on edge.
But the scope of the investigation has largely been focused on two angles: Russian collusion and obstruction of justice.
Schiff’s upcoming investigation will have no such scope. Everything will be on the table, not just Russian collusion during the 2016 campaign or obstruction of justice.
The committee will look deep into the president’s finances, whether it’s possible Trump Organization money laundering or his shady business dealings with Saudi Arabia and other foreign entities.
In other words, Congress is finally going to start providing the oversight of Trump that it has neglected over the past two years.