WASHINGTON -- The House Judiciary Committee plans to vote Thursday on whether to authorize subpoenas for a dozen people connected to President Donald Trump, including Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law.
The votes involve two of the Democrats' highest-profile oversight investigations into Trump and his administration: the question of whether Trump obstructed justice by attempting to influence special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian election interference, and the abandoned "zero tolerance" policy that separated children from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border.
There is no guarantee that the Trump administration will comply with any of the subpoenas if they are approved.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler on Tuesday announced the proposal to subpoena Kushner, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions and former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein for the investigation into the allegations of obstruction of justice outlined in Mueller's report.
Sessions, who was involved in Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, had recused himself from the Russia investigation. Rosenstein appointed Mueller as the special counsel in the case.
Other subpoena targets include Corey Lewandowski, Trump's former campaign manager, and former White House aides Rob Porter and Rick Dearborn.
Committee members also planned to vote on a subpoena for Jody Hunt, Sessions' former chief of staff, who took detailed notes of interactions with the president that were cited in the Mueller report. Hunt had noted that in May 2017, Trump responded to the news that Mueller was appointed special counsel by calling it the "end of my presidency," saying the investigation would take "years and years and I won't be able to do anything."
Three other names on the list for a subpoena vote are related to the National Enquirer's efforts to stifle potentially embarrassing stories about Trump over the years. Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, in testimony before the House Oversight and Reform Committee earlier this year, discussed those efforts.
The three are longtime Trump ally David Pecker, chief executive of American Media, the National Enquirer's parent company; Dylan Howard, who Cohen said was personally involved in coordinating payments to two women who said they had affairs with Trump; and Keith Davidson, an attorney who initially represented the women and negotiated their payments.
In addition, the committee plans to vote on subpoenas for Michael Flynn, the president's first national security adviser, and for John Kelly, the former White House chief of staff.
Nadler, D-N.Y., will make the final decision about when to issue the subpoenas, if they are approved. He said they can be avoided if the information is provided voluntarily.
The committee has already authorized but not yet issued subpoenas for Reince Priebus, Trump's first chief of staff, and for Steve Bannon, who helped run his presidential campaign.
The committee's action Thursday will come six days before Mueller is scheduled to testify publicly before the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees. He had resisted testifying, but he ultimately agreed to back-to-back two-hour public hearings with the committees.
Mueller had said he could not exonerate Trump on obstruction and indicated in a May news conference that it was up to Congress to decide what to do with his findings.
U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, the judiciary panel's top Republican, criticized the planned subpoenas, saying the Democrats' "latest effort to relitigate the special counsel's investigation remains unimpressive and unproductive."
"Even if Chairman Nadler still believes subpoenas are conversation starters, it's hard to imagine this handful of subpoenas will do anything but reinforce the principal conclusions we've been able to read about for months," said Collins, R-Ga.
Nadler said in a statement that some of the subpoenas up for a vote Thursday will focus on the separation of migrant children from their families and "discussions about or offers of presidential pardons to Department of Homeland Security officials or employees."
"For months, we have held hearings and sent letters to the agencies of jurisdiction involved with implementing a catastrophic and inhumane family separation policy at the southern border," Nadler added in his statement. "Many questions remain, and it is past time for a full accounting of this policy and practice."
The Democratic questions on pardons involve Kevin McAleenan, the acting Department of Homeland Security secretary. Shortly after McAleenan took over border enforcement, Trump told him that he'd pardon him if he were to find himself in trouble for blocking people legally seeking asylum, people familiar with the conversation told The Associated Press. The people spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a private conversation.
McAleenan never took any such action. He has said he was not asked, directed or pressured to do anything illegal, but he has also said his conversations with the president are privileged information.
Elsewhere in Washington, the House Oversight and Reform Committee will convene hearings this week on the administration's separation of migrant children from their families and on the specific treatment of children in detention facilities.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told colleagues Tuesday that the House would also consider legislation proposed by Democratic lawmakers returning from visits to the border, including bills that would ban the separation of families in most cases, set new standards for medical care for detained migrants and limit the amount of time an unaccompanied child can spend at a temporary detention center.
Also on Tuesday, staff members for the House Intelligence Committee chaired by Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., questioned Felix Sater, a Russia-born business executive who worked with Cohen before the 2016 election on an effort to build a skyscraper in Moscow. The project, and Sater's role in it, were extensively documented in Mueller's report.
The project was later abandoned, and Cohen is now in prison, partly on charges that he lied to Congress about the project during lawmakers' investigation into the Trump campaign's contacts with Russians.
During a break, Sater told reporters that the questions were "more of the same" from his previous interviews. When asked if he knew how aware Trump was of the Trump Tower project, Sater said he didn't know.
A spokesman for the committee, Patrick Boland, later issued a statement saying that Sater had not fully cooperated with the panel. Boland said Sater specifically declined to answer questions related to Cohen's false statement about the Moscow project, adding that Sater would remain under subpoena.
Boland said the committee was still seeking unredacted telephone records and other documents.
The intelligence panel had also subpoenaed Flynn and former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates to appear by today. Schiff said Tuesday that neither would appear this week, but the panel was still in negotiations with both of them.
Information for this article was contributed by Billy House of Bloomberg News; by Nicholas Fandos of The New York Times; and by Mary Clare Jalonick, Colleen Long, Eric Tucker and Michael Balsamo of The Associated Press.
A Section on 07/10/2019
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