Although Congress continues to have to deal with the ongoing partial government shutdown, House Democrats also have an eye on ramping up investigative oversight of the Trump team including through reopening the House Intelligence Committee’s Russia investigation. House Intel lawmaker Rep. Jackie Speier, a Democrat who’s newly in the majority, said this week that Donald Trump Jr. would be the first targeted with a subpoena.
He’s previously testified before the committee, but that was while Republicans were in charge and he’s believed to have lied during that testimony. Reportedly, he’s well aware of the potential implications of that decision and has expressed concern to friends that he could be indicted as the Russia probe drags on. His father’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen recently faced a sentence of a full three years in prison over crimes including lying to Congress – so the stakes are clearly high.
Trump Jr. spoke before the Intel Committee in late 2017, at which time Speier made her stance on his testimony clear, telling CNN:
‘My takeaway is that he has a very serious case of amnesia, and he was very non-responsive on a lot of issues that frankly, you would have a recollection of.’
Rep. Jackie Speier reacts to news of Donald Trump Jr.’s testimony, saying her takeaway is “he has a very serious case of amnesia” and “there’s still a lot of pieces to this puzzle that we don’t have the answers to” https://t.co/xTjtDaAYmb pic.twitter.com/QoTpu1DWjc
— CNN (@CNN) December 7, 2017
He has been closely scrutinized over his involvement in a meeting at Trump Tower in 2016 with Kremlin lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, who has ironically enough since been charged in a separate case with obstruction of justice and confirmed as an associate of the Russian government. Trump Jr. had been promised that she would bring him dirt from the Russian government on Hillary Clinton, but the eventual Trump Organization head claims that the meeting was innocent in part because nothing productive ever actually came of it.
Still, to say that would be a textbook example of collusion would be an understatement. Collusion is in fact a crime no matter what the Trump team says, proven by the number of interests who’ve been slapped with conspiracy against the United States charges as the Russia probe has gone on.
In the time since Trump Jr.’s initial appearance before her House committee, Speier has already indicated that with Democrats in control, he may get roped in again. During a talk on CNN’s New Day late last year, she added that Trump son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner — who was also at the 2016 Trump Tower meeting — could also be poised for scrutiny, and that they’d use subpoenas against both if they had to. She added that they’d utilize public hearings when they could.
When Republicans on the House Intel Committee closed up their Russia investigation in favor of investigating those who’d ever raised concerns in the first place, committee Democrats led by new Chairman Adam Schiff produced a list of further lines of inquiry and witnesses who they believed warrant further scrutiny. Now that they’re in the majority in the U.S. House, Democrats have the power to make these investigative dreams a reality, a looming specter that President Donald Trump has already proven afraid of. He’s threatened punitive investigations from the Republicans against Democrats if they proceed with their plans.
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