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US House Panel Launches Probe Into Possible Obstruction of Justice, Abuse of Power by Trump

Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler also cited what he called Trump's attempts to intimidate witnesses in the investigation.

Reuters

Updated:March 3, 2019, 10:21 PM IST
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US House Panel Launches Probe Into Possible Obstruction of Justice, Abuse of Power by Trump
File image of US President Donald Trump. (Photo: Reuters)
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Washington: The head of the US House Judiciary Committee said on Sunday the panel would seek documents from more than 60 people and organizations as it begins investigations into possible obstruction of justice and abuse of power by President Donald Trump.

Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler told ABC's "This Week" the panel wanted to get documents from the Department of Justice, the president's son Donald Trump Jr and Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg, among others.

"We are going to initiate investigations into abuses of power, into corruption ... and into obstruction of justice," Nadler said. "It's our job to protect the rule of law."

"It's very clear that the president obstructed justice," Nadler said. He said it was too soon to consider whether impeachment should be pursued, however.

"Before you impeach somebody, you have to persuade the American public that it ought to happen," he said.

As evidence of obstruction, Nadler cited Trump's May 2017 firing of FBI Director James Comey, who at the time was leading an investigation into Russia activities in the 2016 US presidential election and possible collusion with Trump's campaign.

That investigation was subsequently taken over by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is expected to deliver his findings to the US attorney general within weeks.

Nadler also cited what he called Trump's attempts to intimidate witnesses in the investigation.

"I am an innocent man being persecuted by some very bad, conflicted & corrupt people in a Witch Hunt that is illegal & should never have been allowed to start," Trump said in a tweet on Sunday. Trump has denied his campaign worked with Moscow.

The White House, the Justice Department and the Trump Organization did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Nadler's remarks.

Nadler said the committee on Monday would release the list of people and organizations it would be requesting documents from.

Trump told a group of conservative activists and politicians on Saturday that investigators want to look at his finances and business dealings because no evidence of collusion has been found.

"All of a sudden they are trying to take you out with bullshit," he told the Conservative Political Action Conference.

While the Mueller investigation is focused on specific crimes, Congress' probes will cast a much wider net, including abuse of power, Nadler said.

Testimony by Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen last week directly implicated Trump in various crimes, including campaign finance violations, Nadler said.

Congressional investigators will also look at whether Trump used the White House for personal enrichment in violation of the Constitution's emoluments clause, he said.

"All of these have to be investigated and laid out to the American people," said Nadler, whose committee would take the lead in any effort to impeach the president. "This investigation goes far beyond collusion."

House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy attacked Nadler as having an impeachment agenda.

"I think Congressman Nadler decided to impeach the president the day the president won the election," he told ABC on Sunday. "They're setting a whole new course because there's no collusion so they want to build something else."

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