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House Judiciary Democrat Promises ‘In Essence’ Impeachment Hearings

Steve Cohen introduced articles of impeachment in November 2017

Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., serves on the House Judiciary Committee, where Congress oversees impeachment proceedings, and first introduced articles of impeachment last year. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., serves on the House Judiciary Committee, where Congress oversees impeachment proceedings, and first introduced articles of impeachment last year. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A leading Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee referred to the business empire of President Donald Trump as a “criminal enterprise” on Sunday and promised to investigate allegations that he has used his White House office to enrich himself.

The Trump Organization is “a criminal enterprise that he and his family has been engaged in, to run for president and once they got the presidency they monetized it,” Tennessee Rep. Steve Cohen said in an interview with MSNBC.

“They’ve done it at Trump Tower. They’ve done it with the Trump hotels. They’ve done it with the Saudis … This is a criminal enterprise that makes Al Capone and Frank Nitti look like good guys,” he said.

Cohen said the committee will conduct hearings on the emoluments clause at the start of the new Congress in January. Emoluments violations comprise two of the five articles of impeachment that Democrats, led by Cohen, levied against President Trump in November of last year. The committee will also interrogate comments the president has made disparaging the judiciary branch, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the press.

Those hearings on the gravity of the charges levied against Trump will be “in essence, hearings on impeachment,” Cohen said.

The House Judiciary Committee carries out impeachment proceedings. Cohen has chastened Republicans for not initiating those proceedings, accusing committee Republicans of functioning “like a branch of the administration.”

But Democrats will take control of the gavel in the new Congress in January. Cohen will lead the committee’s Constitution subcommittee. The chairman will be New York Democrat Rep. Jerry Nadler. 

But Cohen acknowledged the possibility that any investigation could be stifled by the White House.

In a separate interview with National Public Radio Saturday, Cohen said that Trump will “use whatever tactics” available to consolidate power — including using his pardon power to absolve his former confidantes and his family from the probe by special prosecutor Robert S. Mueller III.

“And I expect the Trump family to be among the people who find themselves under indictment and then have to go to trial unless the president pardons them,” Cohen said. “And I don’t put anything beyond this president — pardoning his sons, pardoning his daughter, pardoning his son-in-law, pardoning Manafort — you name it.

“He will use whatever tactics and powers that he has or can conjure up to protect himself to maintain power,” he continued.

New information surfaced in the Mueller probe Friday  that appears to directly link the president to criminal actions. Court documents indicate Trump directed longtime fixer Michael Cohen to make illegal hush payments to two women who said they had affairs with the president.

But the new revelations do not hasten the committee’s timeline for possible impeachment proceedings, Cohen said. 

“You had introduced articles of impeachment last year. I have to ask, based on [new revelations], do you plan on doing that again?“ an NPR host asked.

“Well, not right now,” Cohen replied.

Watch: Burr on Russia Investigation: ‘We’ve Gotta Do It on Facts’

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