All eyes are on Capitol Hill. House Democrats, flexing their new majority muscles, wasted no time after President Trump’s State of the Union address to announce expansive investigations of the president and those around him: There will be probes into his administration, the 2017 presidential transition, the 2016 Trump campaign, and the Trump Organization — the real-estate business Donald Trump spent a lifetime conducting.
It’s a dragnet, or at least as much of a dragnet as congressional committees can muster. Their investigative powers do not compare with those of federal prosecutors and FBI agents, who compel grand-jury testimony, execute search warrants, arrest suspects, and file indictments to squeeze cooperation from potential witnesses.
That is one reason why the most consequential Trump action may be happening in the place getting the least attention from the national media: the U.S. attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York (SDNY).
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This is not to belittle the congressional probes. As Rich Lowry and I discussed in this week’s episode of The McCarthy Report, Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff (D, Calif.) and the chairmen of the other relevant House committees are laying the groundwork for imminent battles over the scope and disclosure of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s eventual report to the Justice Department. They are opening the front into the president’s family-run real-estate empire — investigations that will seek his tax returns, probe fraud allegations raised in an explosive October 2018 New York Times report on the Trump empire’s accumulation of wealth, and explore the Trump Organization’s dealings with Deutsche Bank, which has been fined hundreds of millions of dollars for helping Russian oligarchs launder money.
Jousting simultaneously with at least five congressional committees will exhaust the administration. Yet the more immediate threat of criminal jeopardy for the president is posed by federal prosecutors in Manhattan.
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