House Democrats are returning to Washington this week, and one of the first orders of business will be a House Judiciary investigation into Donald Trump's role as a co-conspirator in efforts to cover up his hush money payments over his affairs.
House Democrats plan to make President Trump’s alleged involvement in a 2016 scheme to silence two women who claimed they had affairs with him a major investigative focus this fall, picking up where federal prosecutors left off in a case legal experts say could have led to additional indictments.
The House Judiciary Committee is preparing to hold hearings and call witnesses involved in hush-money payments to ex-Playboy model Karen McDougal and adult-film star Stormy Daniels as soon as October, according to people familiar with the plans who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal discussions.
Democrats say they believe there is already enough evidence to name Trump as a co-conspirator in the episode that resulted in his former attorney, Michael Cohen, pleading guilty to two campaign-finance charges.
Cohen, who is serving a three-year prison sentence for those counts and other crimes, testified under oath that Trump directed the payments that helped land him behind bars. Federal prosecutors in Manhattan also described Trump’s alleged role in the scheme, referring to him in court papers as “Individual-1.” But they concluded their investigation this summer without bringing any additional charges.
The hush-money inquiry will open a new chapter in the House’s months-long consideration of whether to draft articles of impeachment against the president.
More than 130 House Democrats have called for an official impeachment inquiry to begin, although House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has cautioned that trying to remove Trump would be divisive and politically risky without public support.
The new congressional inquiry will reopen questions about the extent of Trump’s involvement in the episode — and whether he would have been charged if not for Justice Department opinions that a sitting president cannot be indicted.
That's great, but the answer to this, hearings or no hearings, is that the Justice Department will never lift a finger. Trump's guilty as hell, but no prosecution will be forthcoming. If Pelosi believes this is the best route towards impeachment, that's wonderful, but if we're going to spend another two months on this, the results need to be articles of impeachment. If they don't happen by the end of the year, they never will.