Trump bashes ‘fishing expedition’ as Dems cast a wide net

WASHINGTON – The Democratic-controlled House Judiciary Committee launched a sweeping investigation this week to determine if there are grounds for President Trump’s impeachment.

The committee sent more than 80 letters on Monday to Trump’s family members, former business associates, and past and present advisers – among other figures who worked in his businesses, served on his White House staff or in his administration – with knowledge of the controversial actions and other decision-making practices over the course of his 2016 campaign and presidency.

Or as The Washington Post described the intent of the committee’s letters: “whether the president and his administration have engaged in obstruction of justice, corruption and abuse of power.”

“But rather than a targeted approach, Monday’s request was broad, reaching current and former campaign staffers, top Trump Organization officials, even documents and communications,” the Post said.

“The inquiry touched on a wide array of matters, from the president’s business dealings with Russia to the firing of former FBI director James B. Comey to hush payments made to women,” the newspaper said.

Many of these and other issues are being investigated by special counsel Robert Mueller III, and by federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York.

New York regulators have recently subpoenaed Trump’s insurance broker in the wake of testimony from his former personal lawyer Michael Cohen that Trump exaggerated his wealth to insurance firms.

In a statement Monday, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said, “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.”

“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. That is exactly what we intend to do,” Nadler said.

The White House, in a statement from press secretary Sarah Sanders, called the judiciary committee’s action “a disgraceful and abusive investigation into tired, false allegations already investigated by the special counsel and committees in both chambers of Congress.”

Trump’s reply at a White House event Monday: “No collusion. It’s all a hoax.”

Of course, that was Trump’s repeated response about the Kremlin’s cyberwar interference throughout the 2016 presidential campaign. He rarely says that anymore, not since U.S. intelligence unanimously agreed that Russia was behind the massive barrage of phony stories written to incite American voters.

Did you see the interview of the Russian on CBS’s “60 Minutes” who saturated our internet with these false stories to influence the presidential election?

And why were people in Trump’s campaign talking to the Russian ambassador to the U.S. during this period? And meeting with go-betweens for well-connected Russian oligarchs?

Trump says he intends to cooperate with the judiciary committee’s upcoming hearings, but, privately, advisers have been “preparing to push back against the committee’s demands,” the Post says.

Their strategy: claiming executive privilege whenever possible to block the committee’s requests.

Meantime, the scope of Nadler’s inquiry is so broad, it is running into the work of other committees exploring the same issues. There were at least six or more committees investigating Trump, possibly working at cross purposes that could pose problems in the future.

To avoid duplication, committee chairmen have been holding meetings to coordinate their work.

Among those who received letters to appear before the House Judiciary Committee: Trump’s eldest sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump; son-in-law Jared Kushner; Allen Weisselberg, chief financial officer of the Trump Organization; and former White House aides Hope Hicks, Sean Spicer and Stephen K. Bannon.

Nadler’s list of requested documents includes matters related to the FBI, former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and Cohen.

On Tuesday, Trump tweeted: “A big, fat fishing expedition desperately in search of a crime ...”