As it happenedended1551733422

Trump's children listed by investigators as probe into White House intensifies

President says he will comply with major probes from Democratic-controlled committees

Chris Riotta
New York
,Joe Sommerlad
Monday 04 March 2019 16:58 EST
Trump hugs American flag launches attack on 'bull****' Russia probe in CPAC speech

Donald Trump said he would cooperate with the House Judiciary Committee’s sweeping investigation into his White House, campaign and businesses after the probe was announced on Monday.

When a reporter asked him Monday if he was going to cooperate with the investigation led by Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, the president replied: “I cooperate all the time with everybody. You know, the beautiful thing, no collusion. It’s all a hoax.”

The committee has sent requests to 81 people linked to Mr Trump and his associates. Mr Nadler said on Monday the investigation will be focused on possible obstruction of justice, corruption and abuse of power. That list features the president's own children, including Donald Trump Jr and Eric Trump, though it does not request information from Ivanka Trump.

Mr Nadler said Monday’s document requests are a way to “begin building the public record” and the committee has the responsibility to investigate.

The aggressive, broad investigation could set the stage for impeachment, although Democratic leaders have pledged to investigate all avenues and review Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report before taking drastic action.

Meanwhile, three house committees in total are asking the White House and the State Department for any information on private conversations between Mr Trump and Vladimir Putin, including an interview with an interpreter who sat in on their one-on-one meeting in Helsinki last summer.

The broad requests from the House intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight and Reform committees ask for the substance of Mr Trump and the Russian president’s conversations in person and by phone, as well as for information on whether those conversations had any impact on US foreign policy.

The committees are also asking whether Mr Trump tried to conceal any conversations.

The committees asked for interviews with “linguists, translators or interpreters” who in any way listened to those conversations. Mr Trump and Mr Putin met privately in Helsinki in July for more than two hours with only interpreters present.

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Hello and welcome to The Independent's rolling coverage of the Donald Trump administration.

Joe Sommerlad4 March 2019 10:08

President Trump is facing a new House Judiciary Committee investigation into whether or not he has abused the power of his office to hinder FBI special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

"We are going to initiate investigations into abuses of power, into corruption and into obstruction of justice," chairman Jerrold Nadler told ABC’s This Week. "We will do everything we can to get that evidence." 

"It's very clear that the president obstructed justice," Mr Nadler said. 

He pointed to what he considered several instances of obstruction of justice by the president, including the "1,100 times he referred to the Mueller investigation as a 'witch hunt"' as well as Mr Trump's abrupt firing of FBI director James Comey in 2017.

According to Mr Comey, President Trump had encouraged him to drop an investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Mr Trump denies the allegation.

Here’s Zamira Rahim.

Joe Sommerlad4 March 2019 11:11

Jerrold Nadler’s panel is seeking to review documents from the Justice Department on, amongst others, the president's son Donald Trump Jr and Trump Organisation chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg. 

Former White House chief of staff John Kelly and former White House counsel Don McGahn are also likely targets, he said.

Mr Nadler isn't calling the inquiry an impeachment investigation but said House Democrats, now in the majority, are simply doing "our job to protect the rule of law" after Republicans during the first two years of Mr Trump's term were "shielding the president from any proper accountability." 

"We're far from making decisions" about impeachment, he said. 

House speaker Nancy Pelosi has so far refrained from encouraging impeachment calls by insisting Robert Mueller must be allowed to finish his work and present his findings publicly — though it's unclear whether the White House will permit his report’s full release.

Joe Sommerlad4 March 2019 11:25

Right on cue, President Trump blasted the new investigation in a brace of tweets on Sunday, calling it a partisan probe unfairly aimed at discrediting his win in the 2016 presidential election and again using the phrase “witch hunt”, rather proving Mr Nadler’s point.

Joe Sommerlad4 March 2019 11:35

House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff agreed with Speaker Pelosi's stance on impeachment when he appeared on CBS's Face the Nation on Sunday, also saying he thinks the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya offering "dirt" on presidential rival Hillary Clinton constitutes “direct evidence” of collusion on the part of the president’s team.

“I think there is direct evidence in the emails from the Russians through their intermediary offering dirt on Hillary Clinton as part of what is described in writing as the Russian government effort to help elect Donald Trump," Mr Schiff said.

“They offer that dirt. There is an acceptance of that offer in writing from the president’s son, Don Jr, and there is overt acts and furtherance of that… That to me is direct evidence.”

Joe Sommerlad4 March 2019 11:45

The new Judiciary Committee investigation again sees the newly-empowered House Democrats flexing their muscles in the wake of November’s mid-terms.

A number of House committees are now probing alleged coordination between Trump associates and Russia's efforts to sway the 2016 election, Mr Trump's tax returns and possible conflicts of interest involving the Trump family business and policy-making.

The House Oversight Committee, for one, has set a Monday deadline for the White House to turn over documents related to security clearances after The New York Times reported that the president ordered officials to grant his son-in-law Jared Kushner's clearance over the objections of national security officials. 

Mr Nadler's added lines of inquiry also come as special counsel Robert Mueller is believed to be wrapping up his work into possible questions of Trump campaign collusion and obstruction in the Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election. 

In his testimony before Congress last week, ex-Trump fixer Michael Cohen acknowledged he did not witness or know directly of collusion between Trump aides and Russia but said he had his "suspicions." 

Joe Sommerlad4 March 2019 11:55

House minority leader Kevin McCarthy - a California Republican, also a guest on This Week - has accused House Democrats of prejudging Donald Trump based purely on partisan politics. 

"I think Congressman Nadler decided to impeach the president the day the president won the election," Mr McCarthy said. "Listen to exactly what he said. He talks about impeachment before he even became chairman and then he says, 'you've got to persuade people to get there.' There's nothing that the president did wrong." 

"Show me where the president did anything to be impeached... Nadler is setting the framework now that the Democrats are not to believe the Mueller report," he said. 

The president retweeted Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel's endorsement of Mr McCarthy's comments:

Joe Sommerlad4 March 2019 12:05

Meanwhile, President Trump has said that Michael Cohen's explosive appearance before the House Oversight Committee last week was to blame for the failure of his nuclear summit with North Korea's Kim Jong-un.

Mr Trump sent his national security adviser, John Bolton, to do the rounds of the talk shows on Sunday night, the latter appearing on Fox News Sunday, CNN's State of the Union and CBS's Face the Nation to paint the meeting as a success despite no agreement being secured. 

"He's not desperate for a deal, not with North Korea, not with anybody if it's contrary to American national interests," Mr Bolton said.

Here's Chris Baynes.

Joe Sommerlad4 March 2019 12:15

A little CPAC recap, courtesy of Sarah Harvard.

“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 a sudden they're trying to take you out with bull****,” Mr Trump said in a two-hour “off-script” address in Maryland on Saturday night.

His rhetoric was rarely less than inflammatory: “Right now we have people in Congress that hate our country and you know that. And we can name every one of ’em if they want. They hate our country. Sad. It’s very sad. When I see some of the things being made, the statements being made, it’s very, very sad.”

He hugged the American flag as he arrived on stage at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Centre in National Harbour and went on to attack the Democrats’ Green New Deal proposal on climate change with a sarcastic endorsement.

Joe Sommerlad4 March 2019 12:30

In other news, President Trump has tweeted his support for the people of Alabama following the state's being struck by a devastating tornado that has already claimed at least 23 lives.

Here's our report on the natural disaster, courtesy of Tom Batchelor.

Joe Sommerlad4 March 2019 12:45

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