TWO YEARS. It took that long for Congress to finally do one very important function the U.S. Constitution has mandated it to do: to fulfill its oversight responsibility, making sure co-equal branches of government provide checks and balances among each other so that no one individual or institution abuses its power and betray the public’s trust.
TWO YEARS. And now the 45th President of the United States again plays the victim role, crying against what he calls “presidential harassment,” when in fact the Democrats in the House, who reclaimed leadership of Congress through the American people’s sacred vote in the midterm elections, are just working hard to make President Trump accountable.
Ladies and Gentlemen, good morning! After two years, this is a new day.
On Monday, March 4, the House Judiciary Committee has launched a sweeping probe into President Donald Trump to determine if his administration and associates obstructed justice and engaged in public corruption or any other abuse of power.
The House Judiciary Committee announced Monday that it had sent out 81 requests for documents to start building its record for the investigation.
As TIME reported, included in the requests were the Trump Organization, as well as several employees invoked by former Trump attorney Michael Cohen during his hearing last week before the House oversight committee: Chief Financial Official Allen Weisselberg, Executive Vice President Matthew Calamari, and President Trump’s longtime personal assistant Rhona Graff. The President’s two sons, Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr., also received requests, as did the White House and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner.
Before we get lost and confused in the complicated web of investigations on Trump and his orbit, let me present the big picture.
The Mueller probe was launched to determine if there was a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia to damage the campaign of Hillary Clinton and help Trump win in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
The mandate given to Mueller was to turn over any evidence of crimes not within its purview of national security concerns to the appropriate government institutions to do further investigations and file charges if they find probable cause.
Consequently, the Southern District of New York has launched criminal investigations and filed charges to include federal campaign and financial reporting laws, fraud, corruption and cover-up of the violations of the law.
The House Oversight Committee, headed by Rep. Elijah Cummings and the Committee to which Trump’s former long-time personal attorney/fixer Michael Cohen recently gave sworn testimonies to, focuses on determining whether Trump is improperly profiting from his office.
The focus of the House Intelligence Committee headed by Rep. Adam Schiff is on questions of money laundering, financial leverage foreign entities might have over Trump and his businesses, and whether Trump sought to use his political and presidential contacts to improve his own bottom line, during the campaign and since becoming president.
Meanwhile, the House Judiciary Committee focuses on investigating threats to the rule of law is a core function of the House Judiciary Committee.
Nadler defined obstruction of justice as any interference from President Trump and his associates in criminal investigations and any “alleged cover-up violations of the law,” and public corruption as any possible violation of the emolument clause and “conspiracy to violate federal campaign and financial reporting laws.” Abuse of power was defined in part as “attempts to misuse the power of the Office of the Presidency,” which also included attacks on the press, law enforcement and judiciary.
Findings from the investigations being conducted by the Executive Department (Mueller probe under the DOJ), the Judiciary (Southern District of New York, plus Maryland), and the Legislature (House Oversight and Reform, Intelligence and Judiciary Committees) all function in accordance to the mandate of the Constitution, seeking evidence to move forward and determine if Trump and his people violated the laws. While many might overlap, the committee chairmen and chairwomen say they are working together on the investigations.
The House cannot file criminal charges but appropriate institutions may use the findings of the probe along with their own probe to bring charges to court. Congress will likewise use the findings to write laws as needed so that these abuses will never happen again.
Meanwhile, the latest news on Tuesday, March 5, is that the White House rejected a request from the House Oversight Committee to hand over documents and make officials available for interviews for a probe into how Jared Kushner got a security clearance.
WHAT IS TRUMP HIDING? If he, his family, and his associates are not hiding anything, don’t you think they should gladly cooperate in these investigations? After all, their actions, lies, denials, retractions, and hard evidence have led to these probes.
This is the accountability mandated by the Constitution. Nobody is above the law, not even President Donald Trump and his cohorts.
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Gel Santos Relos is the anchor of TFC’s “Balitang America.” Views and opinions expressed by the author in this column are solely those of the author and not of Asian Journal and ABS-CBN-TFC. For comments, go to www.TheFil-AmPerspective.com, https://www.facebook.com/Gel.Santos.Relos