A U.S. congressional panel said on Monday that it has served document requests on 81 government agencies, entities and individuals as part of an investigation into alleged obstruction of justice and other abuses by President Donald Trump and others.
Among those targeted by the Democratic-led House Judiciary Committee are the president's sons Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, WikiLeaks, White House aide and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg, former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and former White House counsel Doug McGahn. "We have seen the damage done to our democratic institutions in the two years that the Congress refused to conduct responsible oversight. Congress must provide a check on abuses of power," House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler said in a statement.
Among the committee's aims is determining whether Trump may have obstructed justice by ousting perceived enemies at the Justice Department, such as former FBI Director James Comey, and abused his presidential power by possibly offering pardons or tampering with witnesses. "The House Judiciary Committee's letter has been received by the White House," White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said. "The (White House) Counsel's Office and relevant White House officials will review it and respond at the appropriate time."
Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said the department has received the committee's letter and is evaluating the request. Republicans in Congress accuse Democrats of pursuing an impeachment agenda as part of a political strategy to reclaim the White House in the 2020 election.
Comey was leading an investigation into Russia activities in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and possible collusion with Trump's campaign when the president fired him in May 2017. The investigation was subsequently taken over by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is expected to end his investigation and report his findings to Attorney General William Barr in coming weeks.
Nadler said Mueller and prosecutors conducting investigators in the Manhattan U.S. Attorney's Office are aware of the committee's action. "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.
Some of those the committee is seeking documents from are among the dozens indicted by Mueller. They include former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, former Trump adviser Roger Stone, and former attorney Michael Cohen. Also on the committee's list are others who worked on Trump's 2016 campaign or in the White House such as Hope Hicks, Steve Bannon, Reince Priebus and Sean Spicer; Rhona Graff, a long-time executive assistant at the Trump Organization; and David Pecker, chief executive of American Media Inc, which publishes the supermarket tabloid the National Enquirer.
Trump maintains that his campaign did not collude with Russia and has repeatedly attacked the investigation, Mueller and the Mueller staff on Twitter. The committee's investigation will cast a wider net than Mueller, whose investigation is focused on specific crimes. The panel also is looking at whether Trump has used the White House for personal enrichment in violation of the Constitution's emoluments clause.
Several U.S. congressional committees are pursuing investigations focusing on Trump. Democrats say Cohen's testimony before the House Oversight Committee last week directly implicated Trump in various crimes including campaign finance violations.
(With inputs from agencies.)