House Democrats’ efforts to oversee the Trump administration are continuing to ramp up. This week, the news dropped that the new Democratic majority on the House Intelligence Committee was preparing to issue a subpoena for phone records related to an infamous meeting at Trump Tower that Donald Trump Jr. took back in 2016 seeking dirt from the Russian government on Hillary Clinton.
Previously, it emerged that Trump Jr. had communicated with someone using a blocked number while planning for that meeting, and some have previously suggested that someone was Donald Trump. Democrats have questioned the Trump team’s insistence that the eventual president was not in on the meeting since on the campaign trail at the time he was promising some new incoming Clinton dirt, and he even eventually pitched in on Trump Jr.’s efforts to conceal the true purpose of the meeting via a deceptive public statement.
Recently, CNN reported that Trump Jr. was actually communicating with business associates in the two separate calls with blocked numbers that transpired among communications with Russian pop star Emin Agalarov, whose family was helping arrange the Trump Tower meeting. Trump Jr. apparently spoke to Nascar CEO Brian France and businessman Howard Lorber that day — a piece of news that the president seized on as evidence of his and his team’s innocence, ranting on Twitter that it was “really sad!” that the calls were ever a big issue.
House Democrats no doubt want to verify who was on those calls for themselves, and perhaps turn up any other previously concealed conversations. CNN shared that the Senate Intelligence Committee was the source for the determination that Trump Jr. hadn’t been speaking with his father while preparing to meet with Kremlin lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya.
For his part, Trump Jr. claimed at one point to not remember who he’d spoken to that day, an answer strategy that Democrats like House Intel Committee member Rep. Jackie Speier (Calif.) have decried as suspicious, to say the least. This week, as the committee got its newest investigative efforts underway, they voted to send all relevant testimony transcripts to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office for possible perjury charges.
The subpoena for phone records related to the Trump Tower meeting was apparently concurrently prepared right as Schiff kickstarted his committee’s oversight efforts, making it one of the first actions he’s undertaken as committee chairman. While previously in the minority, he had pushed for steps like a subpoena of relevant phone records that the then-Republican majority resisted.
This week, Schiff revealed his plans for a renewed investigation now that the Democrats are in control, this time extending to the question of any possible corrupt foreign ties to the Trump team and not just those to the Kremlin. Unsurprisingly, the president freaked out at this prospect, decrying supposed “presidential harassment.”
The new Democratic majority has floated possible further subpoenas targeting Trump Jr. himself in an effort to compel further testimony alongside others, like Trump son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, who was also at the infamous 2016 Trump Tower meeting.
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