Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., gives his opening statement as former special counsel Robert Mueller testifies before the House Judiciary Committee hearing on his report on Russian election interference, on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, July 24, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
It’s no coincidence that as Democrats in the House try to finagle a way to justify an impeachment inquiry — despite House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) offering no formal pathway for it — there are stories breaking anew that Trump may be using his position as a President to enrich himself personally.
The newest comes from Politico, which has made much ado about the fact that Air Force personnel have stayed at a Trump resort in Scotland while refueling at a nearby civil airfield. The Air Force, according to Politico’s own piece, says they’ve been using Trump’s resort there since 2015 because it’s logistically their best option and it’s cheaper, but have decided to do an audit anyway to determine if they’ve given the wrong perception of misuse of tax payer dollars (although they’ve been adamant they’ve broken no rules).
As mentioned, this all comes at a time when Democrats are “dramatically expanding their inquiry into whether to bring articles of impeachment against President Trump.”
That inquiry, which is being run out of the Judiciary Committee, will now include not just an examination of the special counsel’s findings but also scrutiny of Trump’s corruption — his dangling of pardons and his latest shameless acts of self-dealing.
Politico’s piece, under other circumstances, is an innocuous new story about a government entity making sure it’s not giving the public the wrong idea with an audit they believe will turn up nothing illegal but, what the hell?, let’s put people’s minds at ease.
But with House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) attempting to “pull a fast one on Americans” (as Georgia GOP Rep. Doug Collins called it) by voting on a measure to allow Trump’s attorneys to review what Democrats consider “impeachment documents” despite Pelosi’s resistance to bringing impeachment to an official vote (Nadler’s measure gives the impression of impeachment without that formal vote), the Politico piece’s timing looks fortuitous.
As do other recent stories about conflicts of interest.
“We are expanding the investigation outwards from the Mueller report to what I think every American can understand intuitively — the president has treated the office as an extended get-rich-quick scheme,” Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), a senior member of the House judiciary committee, told Greg Sargent of the Washington Post.
The reason this is happening: Trump has pushed his corruption to the forefront. He publicly confirmed that he wants to host the next Group of Seven meeting at his Doral resort in Florida, an extraordinarily blatant act of self-dealing.
Meanwhile, his vice president, Mike Pence, stayed at Trump’s resort in Ireland amid circumstances that rendered the move almost comically unjustifiable. And this comes after reports confirmed that Trump privately dangled pardons to officials after urging them to break laws to build his border wall faster.
Democrats are now examining all of it. The Judiciary and Oversight committees have demanded documents illuminating Trump’s effort to host the G-7 and the vice president’s stay, arguing that these moves likely violated the Constitution’s ban on foreign and domestic emoluments. They’re also scrutinizing Trump’s dangling of pardons.
Raskin told me that Democrats would conduct hearings on Trump’s violations of the emoluments clauses. And he said Democrats might vote on a resolution calling on Trump to reimburse the emoluments he has pocketed, which, if nothing else, might force the issue to a head.
Democrats are also examining records of Trump’s finances held by longtime lender Deutsche Bank. According to Sargent, those records are “of intense interest to the Financial Services committee, which is examining whether Trump helped Russians or other foreign buyers launder money, and to the Intelligence Committee, which is trying to determine whether Trump’s financial entanglements made him vulnerable to foreign influence.”
So while Pelosi is resisting a vote on impeachment, and prominent Democrats like Tulsi Gabbard (HI) are suggesting impeachment would be bad for the country, Nadler and company are moving forward anyway because they may have found the help they need to sell impeachment in the press if not in their own caucus.