Rep. Adam Schiff and the Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee are now ready to rock Donald Trump's world. Spencer Ackerman:
The House Intelligence Committee’s investigation into President Trump’s ties to Russia is officially back. And under the panel’s new Democratic management, it’s beyond supersized.
In its first official business meeting of the new Congress on Wednesday—facilitated by the House Republican leadership’s somewhat belated announcement of GOP membership on the committee—the much-watched House panel voted to re-establish an inquiry into what now might be called Collusion-Plus.
It’s about as different as possible from the committee’s previous investigative incarnation under Republican management, which last year released a report absolving the president and his campaign of any culpability in Russian manipulation of the 2016 election and turned its ire on those within the Justice Department and FBI investigating Trump.
Democratic committee chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) has made no secret of his emphasis on going after financial ties between Trump and Russia and subpoenaing documents thus far untouched by the panel. And on Wednesday, the committee voted to execute another long-standing priority of Schiff’s: giving Special Counsel Robert Mueller the transcripts of all witnesses before the House probe. Misleading the committee and its Senate counterpart has already led to indictments of former Trump advisers Michael Cohen and Roger Stone—and they may not have been the only ones to give false or incomplete testimony.
But an announcement from Schiff shortly after the Wednesday morning vote underscored the ginormous reach of the 2.0 version of the investigation.
The investigation will examine the “scope” of the Kremlin’s influence campaigns on American politics, both in 2016 and afterwards, and “any links/and or coordination” between anyone in the Trump orbit—the campaign, transition, administration, or, critically, the president’s businesses—and “furtherance of the Russian government’s interests.” It will also look at whether “any foreign actor,” not only Russians, has any “leverage, financial or otherwise” over Trump, “his family, his business, or his associates”—and whether such actors actively “sought to compromise” any of those many, many people.
A related line of inquiry will examine whether Trump, his family, and his advisers “are or were at any time at heightened risk of” being suborned by foreign interests in any way. That includes a vulnerability to foreign “exploitation, inducement, manipulation, pressure or coercion.” All that makes it very likely that the committee examines Trump administration policy—think the Syria pullout, or ex-national security adviser and admitted felon Mike Flynn’s attempts to work with Russia’s military in Syria, or Trump’s infamous Helsinki meeting with Vladimir Putin—through that lens.
For nearly two years, we had Devin Nunes do everything he could to sink a real investigation into Trump's collusion. Those days are now over, and a new sheriff is in town. Trump and especially his sons, Don Jr. and Eric, his daughter Ivanka, and son-in-law Jared Kushner, are going to be in real trouble and soon.