The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee Wednesday (February 6) unveiled plans to launch a wide investigation into attempts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election, including a look at President Donald Trump’s finances.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. DEMOCRATIC REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF (CA) SOT: "I can fully understand why the president has gotten used to the idea that Congress doesn’t do oversight because for the last two years the Republican majority has essentially been missing in action when it came to being a co-equal branch of government.
But that ended with the midterms." Representative Adam Schiff said one area he plans to probe are allegations that Russians might possess financial leverage over the American president.
Trump shot back.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP SAYING: "He has no basis to do that.
He's just a political hack who's trying to build a name for himself." Also Wednesday, Schiff said he would immediately hand over transcripts from the committee's own closed-door interviews to the office of special counsel Robert Mueller for possible prosecutions.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. DEMOCRATIC REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF (CA) SOT: "The special counsel's office, the Department of Justice, and its elements will now have access to those transcripts." Mueller is investigating whether members of the Trump campaign sought or received help from Russia to win the 2016 campaign.
House transcripts could shed light on whether Trump aids lied in their testimony to Congress.
The committee interviewed the president's son, Don Jr; his son-in-law, White House adviser Jared Kushner; former White House strategist Steve Bannon; and even Trump's long-time bodyguard, Keith Schiller.
Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen last year pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about a Trump business deal in Moscow.
Mueller last month charged Trump's longtime political adviser Roger Stone with lying to House investigators.
The rancor over the Russia probe intensified a day after Trump tried to use his State of the Union address to suggest the many-pronged investigations into his campaign, his business and his administration could come at a cost for the country.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP SAYING (TUESDAY): "An economic miracle is taking place in the United States -- and the only thing that can stop it are foolish wars, politics or ridiculous partisan investigations.
Schiff on Wednesday was having none of that.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. DEMOCRATIC REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF (CA) SOT: "We are not going to be intimidated or threatened by the president to withhold any legislative advancement if we do our proper oversight -we’re going to do our proper oversight.