An Extremely Comprehensive Guide To House Judiciary’s Investigation

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), (C), questions Acting U.S. Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, at his hearing before the House Judiciary Committee on the special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on Friday, February 08, 2019. (Photo by Cheriss May/NurPhoto)
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), (C), questions Acting U.S. Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, at his hearing before the House Judiciary Committee on the special counsel investigation into Ru... House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), (C), questions Acting U.S. Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, at his hearing before the House Judiciary Committee on the special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on Friday, February 08, 2019. (Photo by Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images) MORE LESS
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March 4, 2019 6:31 p.m.
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House Judiciary Committee chair Jerry Nadler issued a bevy of requests for documents to 81 Trump-affiliated people, corporations and institutions today, revealing an investigation that has the potential to be both wide-ranging and to delve deep into allegations of corruption in President Trump’s administration and his presidential campaign.

When taken together, the separate areas of inquiry portray a range of wrongdoing that’s breathtaking in its scope. The requests were backed by the threat of a subpoena.

From Michael Flynn’s time as national security adviser at the beginning of the Trump administration to varied allegations of pay-for-play between foreign officials and the White House, House investigators are homing in on allegations of self-dealing, obstruction of justice, and abuse of power at the highest levels of American government.

Other, less-scrutinized episodes appear to be squarely within their crosshairs. The committee is asking dozens of witnesses, for example, about their interactions with private equity manager Andrew Intrater and his cousin, Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg. Intrater’s company signed a $1 million consulting agreement with Michael Cohen after Trump took power, a relatively unexamined wrinkle in the furor over Trump’s alleged ties to Russia.

We’ve taken the list of 81 witnesses and separated them out investigation-by-investigation, witness-by-witness. Below are the topics covered.

Click the “see the list” link for the full list of people and entities that received document requests on each topic.

The Flynn Episode

Was Michael Flynn’s historically brief tenure as national security adviser the culmination of a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia? Or was it the beginning of a long attempt to obstruct investigations into the same? Those are two of the main questions that House investigators have before them in their investigation of the former national security adviser and lobbyist.

Document requests relating to Flynn include communications between White House Counsel Don McGahn with Trump regarding Flynn’s statements to the FBI about his contacts with Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak. The Judiciary Committee also focuses on the circumstances of Flynn’s firing, and Sean Spicer’s Feb. 14, 2017 statements about his departure.

See the list »

Jim Comey’s Time With Trump, And His Removal

From the alleged (and now infamous) loyalty request to his volcanic May 2017 sacking, former FBI Director James Comey plays a central role in requests from Nadler’s panel.

Trump fired Comey in May, citing an opinion written by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein criticizing Comey’s handling of the Clinton email investigation. But the firing came after Trump allegedly demanded Comey’s loyalty with respect to investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election, sparking allegations of obstruction of justice by the president.

Investigators are asking for documents and information regarding Comey’s firing, and also May 2017 discussions with the FBI and DOJ that supposedly touched on “obstruction of justice, surreptitious recording of the President, or the 25th Amendment.”

See the list »

A Quixotic Attempt To Fire Jeff Sessions And Other Top Law Enforcement Officials

It was the Saturday night massacre that never happened but that was threatened ad infinitum.

House investigators are asking for information related to Trump potentially plotting to fire then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and Special Counsel Robert Mueller, as well as a number of other senior DOJ and FBI officials.

The requests also appear to cover “communications by President Trump or anyone acting on his behalf relating to Jeff Sessions’s recusal from any investigation related to the 2016 Presidential campaign,” homing in on whether Trump tried to block Sessions’ recusal from the Russia probe or the release of ethics opinions written about the issue.

See the list »

Pardons For Those Targeted By Robert Mueller

Four targets of the Mueller investigation — Paul Manafort, Michael Cohen, Michael Flynn, and Rick Gates — are asked to provide any communications regarding a potential pardon from the White House.

House Judiciary investigators are also asking former DOJ and White House officials for information about the topic, apparently within the segment of the investigation that focuses on allegations of obstruction of justice.

See the list »

Why Was Former Hot Tub Salesman Matthew Whitaker Named Acting Attorney General?

And, furthermore, what was asked of him once he assumed control of federal law enforcement?

One incident in which Trump allegedly asked Whitaker if he could put an ally — acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman — in charge of the Cohen investigation is at the center of the House Judiciary Committee’s crosshairs in the probe.

See the list »

Michael Cohen’s Fraudulent Testimony To The House Select Intelligence Committee; Or, Is Buzzfeed A Good Website?

Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to one charge arising from the Mueller investigation: lying to Congress in connection with the length of negotiations over the Trump Tower Moscow project.

Numerous witnesses are asked for documents related to Cohen’s testimony to the committee. This aspect of the probe has the potential to answer whether a January Buzzfeed report saying that president Trump directed Cohen to lie the committee is borne out by reality.

See the list »

Contacts Between Russian Officials And The Trump Campaign

By far the most witnesses are asked for information about this one point: “any contacts, direct or indirect, between or involving the Russian Federation and its officials, agents, intermediaries, and/or instrumentalities.”

It’s a basic question, and one that’s been asked in various forms since Trump descended the Trump Tower escalator in June 2015 into the national political scene. House investigators appear to be casting a broad net with this request, demanding information from nearly anyone with a connection to the campaign.

See the list »

Russian Financing Of Trump, His Eponymous Org, And Immediate Family

Numerous Trump Organization employees are asked about whether Russian state-owned or private entities financed the Trump organization, or members of the Trump family itself. The request also appears to extend to Jared Kushner and his family real-estate business, the Kushner Companies.

Different requests focus on whether this potential financing include purchases of Trump-owned apartments, or whether it came in the form of loans or large capital investments.

See the list »

Attempts To Develop A Trump Tower Moscow During The 2016 Campaign

While trying to develop a Trump Tower in the Russian capital, Trump may have stumbled into a historically large conflict of interest. Emails show that Trump lawyer Michael Cohen was working through the first half of 2016 with ex felon and government cooperator Felix Sater to secure a deal, with the two of them nearly attending a June 2016 conference in St. Petersburg after speaking with Putin’s spokesman about the deal.

Investigators also appear to be casting a wide net with this request, focusing on numerous Trump Org officials as well people who worked on the Trump campaign.

See the list »

The June 2016 Trump Tower Meeting

Two Russian lobbyists met with top Trump campaign officials in June 2016, with the promise of “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. The meeting itself — pitched by British music promoter Rob Goldstone to Don Jr. — came with the tagline of being part of the Russian government’s support for Trump.

House Investigators are interested in the meeting itself, which featured Paul Manafort, Don. Jr., and Jared Kushner. They also appear to be interested in a statement that Don Jr. issued about the meeting in July 2017, and how it was coordinated.

See the list »

Contacts Between The Trump Campaign And Wikileaks

During the 2016 electoral cycle, Wikileaks released two major caches of emails allegedly stolen by Russian hackers: emails from the Democratic National Committee, released in July, and the contents of John Podesta’s email account, released in October.

The timing of both releases — and court filings from the Mueller investigation — have stoked speculation that the Trump campaign had inside knowledge of Wikileaks’ plans. Public statements by GOP operative Roger Stone that he was in touch with Assange and knew what was coming when have further added fuel to the fire.

House investigators requested that dozens of former campaign officials provide information about any contacts they knew of regarding Wikileaks, from Jan. 1, 2016 to the present.

See the list »

Sharing Or Receiving Election Data With Foreign Countries During The Campaign

A court filing in January revealed that Paul Manafort had shared unspecified polling data with Konstantin Kilimnik during the 2016 election campaign.

House investigators ask Manafort and his associates for information regarding the sharing of election data with foreign entities during the campaign, but also appear to home in on former employees of British political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica. That company harvested data from social media companies to micro-target voters while working for the Trump campaign during the 2016 election.

The House Judiciary Committee is asking the company for information regarding whether it received or shared election-related information from foreign countries.

See the list »

Paul Manafort And Rick Gates’s Contacts With Ukrainian Oligarchs (And Maybe A Russian Spy) During The 2016 Campaign

Paul Manafort chaired the Trump campaign pro bono, so to speak, while quickly running out of liquidity after two Ukrainian oligarchs he worked with stopped sending him regular payments.

House investigators are asking about Manafort and his protege Rick Gates’s contacts with those oligarchs during the campaign, as well as with Konstantin Kilimnik, a Ukraine-based Russian political consultant who the FBI alleges is a Russian intelligence asset.

See the list »

What Negotiations Were Going On With Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, And Russia During The Campaign And Transition

House Judiciary investigators are asking a limited number of witnesses about communications with Middle Eastern powers and Russia during the campaign and transition periods. The document requests could intersect with a January 2017 meeting in the Seychelles, which featured Erik Prince, George Nader, Russian Direct Investment Fund Chief Kirill Dmitriev, and a UAE crown prince.

See the list »

Hush Money Payments And ‘Catch-and-Kill’

Former Trump attorney Michael Cohen pleaded guilty last year to engaging in a scheme by which he funneled hush money from Trump to Stormy Daniels, a porn star he allegedly slept with.

The arrangement worked in part by National Enquirer parent company American Media Inc. buying exclusive rights to the story, and then never publishing it. Cohen and numerous AMI officials (as well as the company itself) are asked for information related to the scheme.

See the list »

Michael Cohen’s $1 Million Deal With Andrew Intrater And His Russian Oligarch Cousin

Michael Cohen was revealed to have signed a $1 million consulting agreement with Columbus Nova, a private equity firm belonging to investor Andrew Intrater, a cousin of Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg. All three — Columbus Nova, Intrater, and Vekselberg — were asked by the committee to provide documents, as were dozens of others involved in the Trump campaign and administration.

Vekselberg and Cohen had reportedly discussed U.S.-Russia relations in the weeks before Trump was inaugurated.

See the list »

How Did The Trump Inaugural Committee Raise $107 Million?

Trump’s inaugural committee took in a record $107 million haul from donors, nearly double the amount that any other inauguration had raised. Allegations that at least part of that $107 million came from foreigners have dogged the committee since it occurred. Federal campaign finance law prohibits foreigners from contributing money to presidential inaugural committees.

See the list »

Emoluments, Domestic And Foreign

Jimmy Carter was famously forced to sell his Georgia peanut farm to avoid a potential conflict of interest. Trump elected not to do so with his interest in an array of companies, and the House Judiciary investigation appears to be aimed at uncovering what’s happened since.

Dozens of potential witnesses are asked about their knowledge of potential violations of the Constitution’s Emoluments clause, which prohibits foreign governments (and domestic state governments) from providing the president with things of value.

See the list »

The 2016 Republican National Convention’s Platform Change Over Arming Ukraine

During the 2016 Republican National Convention, the traditionally hawkish party’s platform was changed behind the scenes to remove a plank which supported supplying the Ukrainian Army with American weaponry.

The question here is less whether it’s in the U.S. or Russia’s national interest to supply or not supply the Ukrainian army with American weapons. Rather, investigators appear to be focused on whether the change occurred as part of a grander quid-pro-quo with Russia, or if it came as part of some other aspect of Russian influence on the campaign.

See the list »

Trump’s Summits With Vladimir Putin, Held Off-Record And Away From Prying Eyes

This is one of the most intriguing items on the list. Investigators seek “the contents of meetings between President Trump and Vladimir Putin” from 2017 through November 2018.

The meetings have diverged from normal practice, with Trump choosing to meet with a limited number of aides without a U.S. translator. Some of those asked about the contents of the meetings — including Trump CFO Allen Weisselberg and Erik Prince — suggest that the investigation could progress in unexpected directions.

See the list »

A Potential Deal To End Sanctions On Russia After Trump Took Office

In its early days, the Trump administration reportedly tried to lift sanctions placed on Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine and — later — to its meddling in the 2016 presidential election. During the inauguration, Flynn purportedly told an associate that the sanctions would be “ripped up” as one of the administration’s first acts in office.

None of that came to pass. But with respect to allegations of a quid-pro-quo in which Russia meddled in the election in exchange for some promised benefit (i.e. sanctions relief), the question remains crucial.

See the list »

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