Democratic Rep. Jame Raskin Discusses Sweeping Probe Into Trump's Inner Circle
MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:
March 18, two weeks from today - that is the deadline for responses to the House Judiciary Committee, which today launched a sweeping probe into Donald Trump's inner circles. The committee is demanding documents from 81 individuals, business entities and agencies. On the list are Trump family members, such as Don Jr. and Eric Trump, also names now familiar from the Russia investigations - think Roger Stone, Carter Page, Paul Manafort - and organizations, from WikiLeaks to the NRA to the FBI. We are now joined by a Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, Representative Jamie Raskin of Maryland. Congressman, welcome.
JAMIE RASKIN: Happy to be with you.
KELLY: In a sentence or two, would you lay out briefly for me the key questions you are hoping to answer here.
RASKIN: Well, these are wide-ranging requests that go from everything connected to the Russia probe, the Trump Tower meeting, the firing of James Comey, the attempt to interfere with the Mueller investigation, to emoluments, foreign payments made to the president and his inner circle, to the hush money payoffs paid to the various mistresses, to the catch-and-kill practices conducted by the National Enquirer and its parent company. You name it. It's all in there.
Essentially there were two years of nonexistent oversight run by the Republicans in the House of Representatives, and those days are over now. This is real oversight. We want to get to the bottom of all of the corruption and criminality that have pervaded the White House over the last few years.
KELLY: You said you name it; it's all in there. And this is a fact not lost on Republican members of the committee who point out that 81 requests is a lot. I want to let you hear what the ranking Republican on your committee - this is Georgia's Doug Collins - what he had to say about this today on FOX News Radio.
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DOUG COLLINS: So now they're just saying, oops, what Mueller report? Oh, that's still coming out, but no, we're going to investigate everything else we possibly can. We started it last week with Cohen. We've seen it now in what Jerry, the chairman's, going to do.
KELLY: Referring to Jerry Nadler there - so Congressman Raskin, let me ask you to respond to, that - he says you Democrats are investigating everything. Is this a fishing expedition?
RASKIN: Well, first of all, they tried to prevent the special counsel from forming. They've done everything in their power to undermine the special counsel, to sandbag the special counsel and to put the work of the special counsel into a straitjacket. And...
KELLY: But to focus on what you're doing, 81 requests - that's a lot.
RASKIN: Well, there are dozens of problems, and they range from the manipulation of the security clearance process, which is very dangerous to our national security, to attempts by the president to stifle the neutral enforcement of the laws at the Department of Justice, to the infiltration of Russian mob money and oligarch money into American politics, the interference with the 2016 presidential election. So if the Republicans...
KELLY: So you're saying it's a lot of requests but because there's a lot to investigate.
RASKIN: There are a lot of problems. And if the Republicans don't want to be part of it, they don't have to be part of it. But the American people have a right to know, and Congress needs to get to the bottom of all of these scandals that have been swirling around the surface of the Trump administration.
KELLY: The Mueller report came up, and I want to ask. Is part of your motive here that if the Mueller report is not made public or not made fully public, that you've done some of your own legwork and put what you found in the public domain?
RASKIN: That might be a little part of it, but remember; we've got an independent institutional responsibility as the people's representatives in the House to conduct constitutional oversight. That's our job. We've got to be doing that. If there were never a special counsel investigation, we still would have to be doing all of this. So you know, the special counsel's work is neither necessary nor necessarily sufficient to any kinds of actions that we would take. We've got an independent constitutional responsibility.
KELLY: That is Democratic Congressman Jamie Raskin of Maryland, and we will leave it there. Congressman, thanks so much.
RASKIN: Pleasure's all mine. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.