(CNN) President Donald Trump may have committed crimes over a scheme to pay off women alleging extramarital affairs — but Senate Republicans say they have no reason to look into it.
GOP leaders and key committee chairmen are making clear that they believe there is no reason to probe whether the President broke the law in engaging in a scheme to hide payments made to two women to keep their stories quiet in the days running up to the 2016 elections. Sen. Ron Johnson, who chairs the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and investigated Hillary Clinton’s email controversy in the last Congress, says he wants to wait until special counsel Robert Mueller finishes his investigation first.
Told that the investigation into the hush-money scheme was being led by the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, Johnson said: “We’ll let the justice system work its way. … I want to see the definitive information as opposed to show-trial type testimony at congressional hearings.” Trump met Tuesday with Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Georgia Rep.
Doug Collins, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, to discuss border security and immigration ahead of a Wednesday Senate hearing. But Trump also discussed “harassment stuff” with the lawmakers, Graham told CNN. Read More “He just believes they are out to take a wrecking ball to his life,” Graham said of Dems. “They’ll go nuts.” Graham said he told Trump to “listen to his lawyers” about whether to comply with the Democratic requests. “You just have to put your head down, fight back and govern the country — that’s what (Bill) Clinton did,” Graham said, adding that Trump should challenge Democrats to “fix problems.
” Graham said concerns about the Democratic probes comprised about “10%” of the meeting. Asked whether Trump suggested he should fight back, Graham said there was little that he could do, but he planned to use the Senate Judiciary Committee to investigate “abuse” under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which would continue the GOP-led House probes in the last Congress into accusations of FBI and Justice Department misconduct. The decision to ignore allegations that Trump may have broken the law — and wrote a check reimbursing his former personal attorney Michael Cohen for the payments while serving as President — highlights the stark contrast between the priorities of the Democratic-run House and Republican-run Senate over the next two years. Democrats say the GOP is ignoring its constitutional duties to oversee the Executive Branch — and with several powerful committees ramping up oversight over all aspects of the President’s political life, business career, campaign, transition and inauguration. House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff announced Tuesday several new committee hires, including Daniel Goldman as a senior adviser and director of investigations. The hiring is notable because Goldman worked from 2010-2017 for the Southern District of New York — which charged Cohen over the hush-money payments — where Goldman was deputy chief of the organized crime unit. See the more than 80 names receiving House Judiciary Committee letters in its investigation Republicans say Democrats are overreaching and setting the stage for impeachment.
“I think what the Democrats are worried about now is the hysteria over the alleged collusion, that they’re worried the Mueller report will come up with basically nothing against the President,” said Texas Sen. John Cornyn, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and adviser to the GOP leadership. “That’s why I think their full-frontal assault, which as I said I think is a prelude to impeachment and will make sure that we can’t get anything else done.
” Sen. John Kennedy, a Louisiana Republican on the Judiciary Committee, said the hush-money payments that Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen said the President repaid while in office wouldn’t be on his “top five” list of issues to investigate, because the Mueller and the federal prosecutors in New York are already probing it. “I think there are some House members that decided they want to start the election early, and they’re going to do everything they can to tear down the President,” Kennedy said. “I’m not saying that the Republicans wouldn’t do it if the shoe were on the other foot — that’s part of the problem with this place.” In a statement Monday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders blasted the new House investigation as “a disgraceful and abusive investigation into tired, false allegations already investigated by the Special Counsel and committees in both Chambers of Congress.” Trump weighed in on the Democratic probes later Tuesday, telling reporters, “The witch hunt continues,” and adding that “basically” Democrats have “started the campaign.” Trump also appeared to suggest that his predecessor hadn’t complied with congressional investigations into the Obama administration. “President Obama, from what they tell me, was under a similar kind of a thing.
They didn’t give one letter. They didn’t do anything. They didn’t give one letter of the requests. Many requests were made.
They didn’t give a letter.” House Democrats are rapidly ramping up their investigations into all elements of Trump’s world, from his businesses to his administration. After Cohen’s blockbuster testimony last week — where he displayed a check Trump paid him in 2017 as partial reimbursement for the October 2016 payment to Stormy Daniels — three House committee said they wanted documents and testimony from Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg. Weisselberg was one of 81 people and entities that received letters from House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler on Monday asking for documents on a wide-range of issues, marking the start of a sprawling investigation into possible corruption, obstruction of justice and abuse of power.
One Senate committee continues to probe possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia in 2016: The Senate Intelligence Committee, which is two years into its investigation into Russia’s 2016 election meddling. The panel also interviewed Cohen last week behind closed doors, the day before his high-profile public testimony, but lawmakers say the President’s role in hush-money payments is beyond the scope of the committee’s probe.
In 2017, the GOP-led Senate Judiciary Committee did launch an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting, where Donald Trump Jr. was promised “dirt” on Clinton’s campaign from a Russian lawyer. That probe wrapped up last year amid infighting between Democrats and Republicans over witnesses, with Democrats demanding Trump Jr.
and others return for public testimony. “The Senate Judiciary Committee has a responsibility to be more aggressive in continuing its investigation which unfortunately we short-circuited,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat who sits on the panel.
“We need to bring back Donald Trump Jr.
and anyone else who has known about those hush money payments.” Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, a senior member of Senate Judiciary who chaired the panel in the last Congress, wouldn’t say if he had concerns about Trump’s involvement in a hush-money scheme. 8 things I learned from Michael Cohen today “You always ask me questions that I haven’t studied,” Grassley said Tuesday. “So I can’t say.” A fellow Iowa Republican on the Judiciary panel, Sen. Joni Ernst, also suggested she wasn’t fully aware of the hush money when asked if the committee should look into the scandal.
“Possibly at some point — I don’t know enough about it,” Ernst said. On the House side, Republicans can do little while in the minority to stop their Democratic counterparts. Instead, they’ve vocally criticized their Democratic colleagues for trying to tear down the President with their investigations. Trump has also frequently slammed them on Twitter as “presidential harassment.
” After attacking Cohen’s credibility at his hearing last week, Republicans downplayed the significance of the hush-money allegations. “I think it’s news we knew about,” Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, the top Republican on the House Oversight panel, said after the hearing concluded.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy accused Nadler, whose committee would lead impeachment proceedings, of deciding to impeach Trump “the day the President won the election.
” Asked if he was concerned about the President directing the hush-money payments, McCarthy instead put the blame on Cohen. “You know what concerns me? If you hire an attorney — if I hire an attorney to make sure I carry out the law, the attorney has a responsibility to tell me what’s right and wrong in the process,” he told ABC News.
“If it’s a finance campaign, those are fines. Those aren’t impeachable in the process.” Some of the President’s allies are also not eager to engage in the controversy. Asked Tuesday if he had any concerns about Trump paying off women and allegedly breaking the law, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas ignored the question and kept walking. This story has been updated with additional developments Tuesday.
Trump Puerto Rico aid: president’s comments about relief funds spark scathing response from island’s governor – CBS News
Puerto Rico governor slams Trump for relief funds comments: “We are your citizens” By Camilo Montoya-Galvez March 27, 2019 / 2:11 PM / CBS News Puerto Rico faces food stamp cuts Puerto Rico’s Gov. Ricardo Rosselló slammed President Trump for opposing further disaster aid to the island and reportedly telling Republican senators he believed the…
Puerto Rico governor slams Trump for relief funds comments: “We are your citizens” By Camilo Montoya-Galvez March 27, 2019 / 2:11 PM / CBS News Puerto Rico faces food stamp cuts
Puerto Rico’s Gov. Ricardo Rosselló slammed President Trump for opposing further disaster aid to the island and reportedly telling Republican senators he believed the U.S. territory received too many federal relief funds compared to states like Texas and Florida, which have also been battered by storms in the past two years.
“The comments attributed to Donald Trump today by senators from his own party are below the dignity of a sitting President of the United States,” Rosselló wrote in a statement. “They continue to lack empathy, are irresponsible, regrettable and, above all, unjustified.”
“Mr. President: Enough with the insults and demeaning mischaracterizations.
We are not your political adversaries; we are your citizens,” the governor added in his most stinging rebuke of the president so far.
Mr. Trump reportedly told Republican senators at a policy lunch Tuesday that federal relief funds sent to Puerto Rico were “way out of proportion to what Texas and Florida and others have gotten,” according to the Associated Press.
In both public and private comments, Mr. Trump has repeatedly expressed opposition to increased disaster aid for Puerto Rico. The island, home to approximately 3.2 million U.S.
citizens, continues to recover from the devastation caused by Hurricane María, which killed nearly 3,000 people — as well as decades of financial instability .
The president’s reported comments and continued opposition to more federal aid to the island will likely precipitate another tense standoff with Congressional Democrats, who now control the House. The Senate will soon vote on a multi-billion dollar disaster assistance package that includes aid for Puerto Rico and states like California, Georgia, North Carolina and Alaska. House Democrats have vowed to reject any measure that does not include funding for the island.
Rebuffing the president’s “disgraceful” comments, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer urged his Republican colleagues to make sure the package guarantees federal relief funds allocated for Puerto Rico are released.
“Help us pass a disaster package that addresses the needs, not of some, but of all disaster survivors; that addresses the needs of all Americans who are affected, not just those that president says come from a state or area that he happens to like,” Schumer said on the Senate floor Wednesday. President @realDonaldTrump is continuing to try to block disaster aid for fellow Americans in Puerto Rico and “doesn’t want another single dollar going to the island.”
These political games must stop.
pic.twitter.com/coChwyXsQg — Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) March 27, 2019
The president has repeatedly clashed with Rosselló and other Puerto Rican officials over federal assistance to the U.S. territory. His administration’s handling of recovery efforts in the aftermath of María and Irma have been sharply criticized by some local residents, leaders and most Democrats in Congress.
Recently, Rosselló has denounced the White House for considering diverting disaster relief funds to finance the president’s long-promised wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and opposing $600 million in food assistance funding , which the White House called “excessive and unnecessary.” First published on March 27, 2019 / 2:11 PM © 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Trump just started a new Obamacare fight with Democrats and it could come back to haunt him in 2020
Trump just started a new Obamacare fight with Democrats, and it could come back to haunt him in 2020 Bob Bryan President Donald Trump is reigniting the fight over Obamacare, which may not work in his favour. President Donald Trump declared Tuesday that the GOP would become “The Party of Healthcare!” The pronouncement came the…
Trump just started a new Obamacare fight with Democrats, and it could come back to haunt him in 2020 Bob Bryan President Donald Trump is reigniting the fight over Obamacare, which may not work in his favour. President Donald Trump declared Tuesday that the GOP would become “The Party of Healthcare!” The pronouncement came the day after the Trump administration sided with a judge’s ruling that the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, should be struck down in its entirety. Democrats are embracing the healthcare fight with good reason, as a slew of polling shows Americans dislike Trump’s handling of healthcare and favour Democrats on the issue. If the fight drags into 2020, it could be bad news for Trump and the GOP.
President Donald Trump wants Republicans to go all in on healthcare, but there’s a lot of data showing the president’s new policy focus might not be the best idea for the GOP.
In a tweet on Tuesday, Trump declared that the GOP would reform its image around the healthcare issue.
“The Republican Party will become ‘The Party of Healthcare!’” the president said.
The tweet came the day after the Department of Justice said in a filing that the Trump administration supported a judge’s recent decision that the entirety of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, should be struck down.
If Obamacare is struck down, an estimated 20 million more Americans would go without health insurance, popular provisions like protections for people with preexisting conditions would be gone, and a huge portion of the US healthcare system would be faced with a chaotic scramble to adapt.
Read more: Experts think the ruling that declared Obamacare unconstitutional is ‘insanity in print’ and will likely be overturned
Given the ramifications of the repeal, the Trump administration’s decision to support the decision sent shockwaves through Washington and the healthcare policy world.
“From pre-existing condition protections to premium subsidies to expanded Medicaid to closing the Medicare doughnut hole to breastfeeding breaks to menu labelling,” Larry Levitt, the senior vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan healthcare think thank, tweeted. “Undoing the ACA, as the Trump administration is arguing in court, would affect almost everyone.” Getty Images/Pool Trump is taking another whack at his predecessor’s signature law.
Following the Justice Department decision, Trump kept the focus on healthcare during a meeting with GOP senators on Tuesday.
According to reports , Trump applauded the DOJ move and told Republicans that the party should once again focus on health policy in Congress.
But neither the administration nor Republicans in Congress have drafted a new healthcare plan to replace the ACA.
At the same time, House Democrats rolled out a sweeping bill meant to solidify preexisting-condition protections and strengthen the ACA.
Read more: Trump keeps claiming the GOP will ‘protect people with preexisting conditions.’ But he’s been trying to gut those protections for almost 2 years.
The flurry of activity has brought renewed attention to the healthcare fight, which could pose a serious problem for Trump and become a boon for Democrats.
In fact, here are a few reasons that healthcare in general, and the Obamacare suit specifically, could come back to bite Trump: A majority of Americans now support Obamacare: Polls over the past year have shown Obamacare getting a record level of support, with a majority of Americans on board with the law . The GOP’s previous attempts to replace the ACA were incredibly unpopular: The last time the party attempted to repeal and replace the ACA, every iteration of its replacement was deeply unpopular . So unless there is a substantial change in the party’s approach, a new attempt at replacement is likely to be a political loser. Americans are very concerned about healthcare: Healthcare typically ranks among the most important issues to voters in polling, and the looming possibility of a major upheaval in the healthcare industry could make the issue even more of a factor in 2020.
Healthcare was a winning issue for Democrats in the 2018 midterms: Before the 2018 midterms, Democrats went all in on healthcare messaging.
The party attacked opponents over their support of the GOP repeal-and-replace bills, especially highlighting the replacements’ undermining of protections for people with preexisting conditions . Based on exit polling from that election, the attack worked. Healthcare was the top issue for midterm voters, and a majority of voters trusted Democrats’ ability to handle healthcare changes more than the GOP’s ability.
Additionally, a slew of deep-red states voted to expand Medicaid under the ACA – another piece of the law that the lawsuit would repeal. Americans don’t like Trump’s handling of healthcare: While Americans generally trust Democrats’ handling of healthcare, the same cannot be said for the president. In a November 2018 Gallup poll , only 36% of people said they approved of Trump’s handling of healthcare policy, while 58% disapproved. A Fox News poll published Sunday also showed that just 37% of people approved of Trump’s handling of healthcare versus 52% who did not.
In both of the polls, healthcare was Trump’s weakest issue. The timing of the Obamacare lawsuit could be bad for Trump: Given the timing of the lawsuit, there is a chance that the Supreme Court could decide on the Obamacare repeal in the fall of 2020, just before the presidential election. This means many voters could cast their votes within weeks of hearing that the Trump administration allowed a lawsuit to go forward that would force 20 million Americans to lose coverage while undermining preexisting-condition protections. Business Insider Emails & Alerts
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Poll: Three-Quarters Want Full Mueller Report Made Public : NPR
Enlarge this image Special counsel Robert Mueller after attending church on March 24, 2019, in Washington, D.C. Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images hide caption toggle caption Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images Special counsel Robert Mueller after attending church on March 24, 2019, in Washington, D.C. Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images Days after Attorney General William Barr released his four-page summary of…
Enlarge this image Special counsel Robert Mueller after attending church on March 24, 2019, in Washington, D.C. Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images hide caption
toggle caption Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images Special counsel Robert Mueller after attending church on March 24, 2019, in Washington, D.C.
Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images Days after Attorney General William Barr released his four-page summary of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation report, overwhelming majorities of Americans want the full report made public and believe Barr and Mueller should testify before Congress, according to a new NPR/ PBS NewsHour /Marist poll.
Only about a third of Americans believe, from what they’ve seen or heard about the Mueller investigation so far, that President Trump is clear of any wrongdoing. But they are split on how far Democrats should go in investigating him going forward.
“People clearly want to see more about the report,” said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion, which conducted the poll. “They want it released publicly, are eager to see the principals — Mueller and Barr — testify, because they want to see how the sausage was made. They want to see how we got to this point.
At the same time, 56 percent said Mueller conducted a fair investigation, and 51 percent said they were satisfied with it. That included 52 percent of independents who said they were satisfied with the investigation. It’s one of the rare questions in the first two years of the Trump presidency in which a majority of independents sided with Republicans instead of Democrats on a subject.
Don’t see the graphic above? Click here.
The other prominent area where independents have sided with Republicans is on impeachment. An NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll last year found that pushing impeachment would not be a winning issue for Democrats.
The summary “could be somewhat of a blessing in disguise for Democrats,” Miringoff said, “because there’s no massive pressure saying, ‘Look at this report, look at this summary — we have to move forward with impeachment.
Americans: The Barr letter is not enough
Overall, three-quarters said the full Mueller report should be made public. That included a majority of Republicans (54 percent).
Just 18 percent overall said Barr’s summary is enough.
Don’t see the graphic above? Click here.
Two-thirds (66 percent) also said they want Mueller to testify before Congress, and 64 percent said the same for Barr.
Trump not in the clear with the public
Enlarge this image President Trump speaks to supporters during a rally Thursday in Grand Rapids, Mich. Scott Olson/Getty Images hide caption
toggle caption Scott Olson/Getty Images President Trump speaks to supporters during a rally Thursday in Grand Rapids, Mich.
Scott Olson/Getty Images Almost six in 10 (56 percent) said that questions still exist, with just 36 percent saying Trump is clear of any wrongdoing. That latter figure is close to where Trump’s approval rating has been throughout his presidency.
In this poll, Trump’s approval rating is 42 percent. That’s up slightly (but within the margin of error) from January, when it was 39 percent and unchanged from December.
Don’t see the graphic above? Click here.
But that doesn’t mean the public wants Democrats to go far down the collusion or obstruction-of-justice rabbit hole of investigations.
Politics Trump Takes A Post-Mueller Victory Lap At Michigan Rally On the issue of obstruction, the Mueller report, as summarized by the Barr letter, noted that Mueller did not come to a conclusion on whether charges should be brought against the president. But Mueller said his report did not “exonerate” the president either.
Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein decided against charging the president.
The country was split 48 to 46 percent on whether Barr’s decision not to charge the president should stand or if Congress should continue to investigate obstruction of justice by the president.
Politics Democrats Demand Full Mueller Report, Lay Out Argument For Continued Investigations What’s more, the country was similarly split, 48 to 45 percent, on whether Democrats should hold hearings to further investigate the Mueller report or end their investigations.
“I think they’re on safe footing to want the full report released” and to bring in Barr and Mueller, Miringoff said, adding, “But don’t start saying there’s still collusion, don’t go for obstruction of justice, because then they’re barking up the wrong tree.”
Views of Mueller spike with Republicans
Mueller enjoys an overall positive rating among Americans, with 38 percent favorable, 25 percent unfavorable and roughly a third (37 percent) unsure or never heard of him.
That’s a big change from December, when Mueller was viewed more negatively (33 percent) than positively (29 percent).
Don’t see the graphic above? Click here.
That change is largely due to Republicans viewing him far more favorably now, after Barr’s letter was released. In December, just 8 percent of Republicans viewed him favorably, while 58 percent viewed him negatively. After the Barr letter, the proportion of Republicans viewing Mueller positively jumped to 32 percent.
Politics Bolstered By Mueller Synopsis, Republicans Go On Offense Over Investigations Overall, views of Trump are generally where they have been. In addition to the consistency of his approval rating, about the same percentage of people compared to last July think he did something either illegal or unethical in his dealings with Russian President Vladimir Putin — 57 percent now compared to 53 percent then .
Analysis Impeachment Just Got Less Likely And 6 Other Takeaways From The Barr Letter What’s more, 54 percent of registered voters said they are definitely voting against him in 2020.
That is about where it was in January, when 57 percent of registered said so. And, remember, in the 2016 election, 54 percent of people voted for someone other than Trump.
Of Trump’s standing and the political climate, Miringoff put it this way: “Despite the two years of attention, focused on Russia and the convictions and all that, it pretty much is exactly where it was.”.
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