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‘We’re not a subpoena production factory’: Nadler moving carefully on obstruction probe

House Judiciary Committee has requested documents from 81 people and entities tied to Trump for it obstruction investigation

Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., is investigating possible obstruction of justice by President Donald Trump and his associates. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., is investigating possible obstruction of justice by President Donald Trump and his associates. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Documents requested from key associates of Donald Trump as part of the House Judiciary Committee’s investigation into obstruction of justice and corruption are beginning to trickle in, the top Democrat on the committee indicated Thursday.

About half of the 81 people and entities connected to Trump who received letters and document requests in February from Chairman Jerrold Nadler have been in touch with the New York Democrat’s staff about complying with the committee’s probe.

“We’ve heard from a number of other people who’ve said they would comply if we give them a subpoena … a friendly subpoena,” Nadler told reporters Thursday.

Only “a handful” of the 81 people and groups have “been defiant and said, ‘No we’re not going to comply,’” Nadler said.

The list that Nadler wants to hear from for the probe includes a range of people in the president’s orbit. They include his adult children — some of whom work in his administration — his convicted former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, and the controversy-plagued campaign consulting group Cambridge Analytica.

Nadler did not say how quickly he will initiate the process of issuing subpoenas to compel witness testimony and document disclosure. But he indicated Thursday that he did not intend to abuse that congressional tool.

“We’re not a subpoena production factory,” Nadler said. “We’re not in business for the purpose of issuing subpoenas. … The purpose is to get information back.”

After the committee examines the first sets of documents it receives,  Nadler will then decide whether to issue subpoenas and who he will call to testify.

Public hearings with key witnesses could commence “before the end of April maybe,” Nadler speculated. He did not commit to any specific timeline.

“We’ll see what we have. We’ll have to analyze that information. We’ll see how adequate or inadequate it is or how important or unimportant the witnesses, the people who haven’t complied are,” Nadler said.

The committee sent document requests to a slew of current and former Trump administration officials including: former Attorney General Jeff Sessions; former White House Counsel Don McGahn; former Deputy National Security Adviser K.T. McFarland; former communications staffers Sean Spicer and Hope Hicks.

The committee also requested information from members of Trump’s family, including sons Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, and son-in-law and White House adviser Jared Kushner.

The letters also seek information from Trump’s campaign, transition staff, and former employees and informal advisers in those areas such as Roger Stone.

Trump initially suggested he will cooperate with the Judiciary Committee’s probe. 

“I cooperate all the time with everybody,” Trump said during a reception for the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision Champion North Dakota State Bison football team earlier this month. 

But then, he added, “It’s a political hoax.”

And the next day, Trump went on the attack, tweeting that the Democrats “have gone stone cold CRAZY” and that the 81 letters were “sent to innocent people to harass them.”

His press secretary, Sarah Sanders, dubbed the House Judiciary Committee probe a “fishing expedition.”

Todd Ruger contributed to this report.

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