House Democrats announce broad probe into allegations of obstruction of justice

Donald Trump

Enlarge Image Donald Trump AP

Ty Cobb, the veteran Washington attorney who represented the White House as special counsel Robert Mueller ramped up his investigation into Russian meddling, said he considers the man leading the probe "an American hero" and does not share President Donald Trump's view that the Russia inquiry is a politically motivated hoax.

Congressional investigators announced on Monday that they have already served 81 separate document production requests to various individuals, entities and government agencies as part of an ongoing probe into alleged obstruction of justice by the Trump White House.

"For two years the Trump administration has been attacking the core functions. of our democracy, and the Congress has refused to do any oversight", the New York Democrat told CNN's Erin Burnett on "Erin Burnett OutFront".

The request is the most serious overt ramp-up of investigations into Trump since Democrats took control of the House of Representatives in early January, and seeks to uncover whether Trump or his administration have participated in obstruction of justice, public corruption, or other abuse of power.

Nadler's gambit comes after the House Intelligence Committee, led by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), announced its own expanded probe into the president's finances last month. Comey was sacked by Trump in May 2017 over his handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private server and email accounts for official business during her time as secretary of state from 2009 to 2013.

White House had received the letter and that "the counsel's office and relevant White House officials will review it and respond at the appropriate time".

And the long list of people the Committee is requesting documents from ranges from key figures in the Trump Organization (including the president's sons, Donald Trump, Jr. and Eric Trump, as well as his son-in-law, Jared Kushner) to former Attorney General Jeff Sessions and former Breitbart News Chairman Steve Bannon.

Cobb, who joined the White House shortly after Mueller's investigation began in 2017, departed in May a year ago as Trump and his surrogates took a more aggressive approach in trying to discredit the investigation. "It's very clear that the president obstructed justice", Nadler said.

The first item on Nadler's document request asks Manafort to provide materials related to "possible pardons for yourself, [former national security adviser] Michael Flynn, or [former Trump personal lawyer] Michael Cohen".

One Trump notably absent from the list is Trump's daughter, Ivanka.

During my time working for President Bill Clinton, I witnessed first-hand what ensued when a Republican-controlled Congress politicized impeachment hearings.

There are also people connected to Russian interference in the 2016 campaign, including participants in a meeting at Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer before the election.

Calling Mueller's an investigation a "witch hunt" has "been effective in a way", as Trump and Giuliani "have ratcheted up the public's concerns about the investigation and its legitimacy", Cobb argued.

Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg, whom Cohen implicated in multiple crimes last week during testimony he gave to the House Oversight Committee, is on the list.

U.S. President Donald Trump and Russia's President Vladimir Putin shake hands during a joint news conference after their meeting in Helsinki, Finland, July 16, 2018.

The committee expects some people to produce right away, and others may eventually face subpoenas, an official said. "But, you know, he is a very direct, forceful presence".

The probe comes following mid-term elections in the USA that gave Democrats a majority over Trump's Republicans in the House.

Although the tax panel has not asked for the documents yet, lawyers for the committee have instructed other panels to help make the case to the public about why the forms are essential to investigating the President.

In a tweet, Mr Trump blasted anew the Russian Federation investigation, calling it a partisan probe unfairly aimed at discrediting his win in the 2016 presidential election.

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