U.S. President Donald Trump talks to the press before departing the White House to visit the Texas border as the federal government shutdown continues on Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019 in Washington, D.C. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)

House launches broad document request as part of investigation into Trump

WASHINGTON — The House Judiciary Committee on Monday unveiled a sweeping request for documents in its congressional investigation into President Donald Trump on allegations of obstruction of justice, corruption and other abuses of power — the clearest sign yet of the broad scope of oversight Democrats intend to pursue.

House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., announced that letters went to 81 agencies, entities and individuals believed to have information on Trump, his associates and members of the Trump administration. The effort is to “begin building a record,” Nadler said, because Trump has accountability for “near-daily attacks on our basic legal, ethical, and constitutional rules and norms.”

“We will act quickly to gather this information, assess the evidence, and follow the facts where they lead with full transparency with the American people,” Nadler said. “This is a critical time for our nation, and we have a responsibility to investigate these matters and hold hearings for the public to have all the facts.”

A letter to the White House requests all documents related to a wide range of controversial Trump administration events related to the 2016 presidential election, such as any collusion with Russia, attempts to influence the investigation led by special counsel Robert S. Mueller to examine Russian interference in that election, hush-money payments related to porn actress Stormy Daniels and the reported negotiations about a Trump Tower building in Moscow.

There’s also questions about Trump administration actions when it comes to the resignation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn; the firing of former FBI Director James Comey; and attempts to fire former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Mueller.

Trump said Monday he intends to cooperate — to some extent, at least — with House Democrats’ demand.

“I cooperate all the time with everybody,” Trump said during a reception for the NCAA Division I FCS Champion North Dakota State Bison football team. “It’s a political hoax.”

Trump used the Bison players in his statement about cooperating with investigators — and his latest swipe at the many investigations he is facing.

“You’re going to learn about that as you grow older,” the president said to the players. “It’s a political hoax. There’s no collusion.”

Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed that the White House received the Judiciary Committee’s letter. “The Counsel’s Office and relevant White House officials will review it and respond at the appropriate time,” Sanders said.

The committee sent document requests to current and former Trump administration officials — including Sessions, former White House counsel Don McGahn, former deputy national security adviser K.T. McFarland and former communications staff members Sean Spicer and Hope Hicks. They went to members of Trump’s family, including sons Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump and son-in-law and White House adviser Jared Kushner.

And the letters also seek information from Trump’s campaign, transition staff, and former employees and informal advisers in those areas such as Roger Stone.

Nadler said that prosecutors in the Mueller’s office and the Southern District of New York “are aware that we are taking these steps,” but Congress “cannot rely on others to do the investigative work for us.”

“Our work is even more urgent after senior Justice Department officials have suggested that they may conceal the work of the special counsel’s investigation from the public,” Nadler said, referring to debate about how much of Mueller’s report would be given to Congress or the public.

Nadler did not mention the impeachment process Monday, and on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday denied that Democrats are pursuing impeachment investigations.

“Impeachment is a long way down the road,” Nadler said. “We don’t have the facts yet, but we’re going to initiate proper investigations.”

Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, criticized Nadler’s calls for investigation. “For almost 2 years, all the Democrats have talked about is collusion,” Collins tweeted. “Now that they’ve found zero evidence of that, they’re switching gears and opening an investigation into anything they can find to undermine this president.”

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