"Fox & Friends" host Brian Kilmeade urged U.S. President Donald Trump Thrusday morning to open an investigation into the personal finances of Democratic Representatives Adam Schiff and Maxine Waters. Schiff and Waters both chair committees with the power to look into Trump's recent activities and are regular critics of the president.
"Why not investigate Adam Schiff? Why not investigate Maxine Watters? How did they become rich?" Kilmeade asked Fox's judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano the day after Trump used the State of the Union address to warn Democrats against further investigations into him.
"Doesn't the president have an attorney? Why doesn't the president run a private investigation into Adam Schiff?" Kilmeade insisted.
"Because the president, if he's going to use the power of the government to do anything, has to do it through the [Department of Justice]," Napolitano replied in all seriousness.
The exchange comes a day after Trump warned Congress that investigations and legislation don’t mix. But Speaker Nancy Pelosi said such threats have no place in the House, as unbowed Democrats charged ahead Wednesday with plans to probe Trump’s tax returns, business and ties to Russia.
Trump, a regular "Fox & Friends" viewer, tweeted on Thursday morning, "So now Congressman Adam Schiff announces, after having found zero Russian Collusion, that he is going to be looking at every aspect of my life, both financial and personal, even though there is no reason to be doing so. Never happened before! Unlimited Presidential Harassment...." He followed that tweet with another, "PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT! It should never be allowed to happen again!"
The chairman of the intelligence committee, Rep. Adam Schiff, announced a broad new investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and Trump’s foreign financial interests. Other committees’ actions are well underway.
The day after the president essentially laid out the ultimatum to Congress during his State of the Union address, Democrats appeared even more resolved to conduct oversight of his administration and legislate on their priorities.
“The president should not bring threats to the floor of the House,” Pelosi told reporters, rebuking Trump for saying during his address that the “ridiculous partisan investigations” must end because they could harm the economy.
Pelosi said Congress has a responsibility to provide oversight, under the Constitution’s system of checks and balances, and would be “delinquent” if it failed to do so.
Schiff indicated his committee’s investigation will be sweeping. It will include “the scope and scale” of Russian intervention in the 2016 presidential election, the “extent of any links and/or coordination” between Russians and Trump’s associates, whether foreign actors have sought to hold leverage over Trump or his family and associates, and whether anyone has sought to obstruct any of the relevant investigations.
“We’re going to do our jobs, and the president needs to do his,” Schiff said, noting the probe will go beyond Russia to include leverage by the Saudis “or anyone else.”
Schiff said, “Our job involves making sure that the policy of the United States is being driven by the national interest, not by any financial entanglement, financial leverage or other form of compromise.”
Trump immediately shot back, calling Schiff nothing but a “political hack” who has “no basis to do that.”
“It’s called presidential harassment,” Trump said during an event at the White House as he announced his new pick to head the World Bank.
After eight years in the minority, House Democrats are releasing their bottled-up legislative energy at a time when Trump’s annual joint address to Congress lacked many new initiatives of his own.
The Democrats’ agenda goes beyond oversight of Trump’s administration and Russian election interference to the bread-and-butter issues of jobs, health care and the economy that propelled them to the House majority. Pelosi said they still hope to work with the White House on shared priorities, particularly on lowering prescription drug costs and investing in infrastructure.
On Wednesday, one House committee held a hearing on gun violence. Two others gaveled in to address climate change. And three more were debating protecting people with pre-existing medical conditions and the Affordable Care Act.
The Foreign Affairs Committee was debating the war in Yemen and a war powers resolution to halt U.S. involvement in the Saudi-led coalition.
Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the chairman of the Oversight Committee, said Trump has to understand “that he has to be accountable.”
“It’s not about partisan investigations,” said Cummings. “We all have to be accountable. And it’s a new day.”
The flurry of activity brought a turn of events for the new Congress. Democrats had been off to a rough start as the 35-day government shutdown jammed the agenda and stifled the energetic freshmen class that swept the party to power in the midterm election.
With the longest government closure over, for now, the new majority is eager to deliver on its promises before the next election shifts attention yet again.
Pelosi made a calculation after the election to forego a traditional 100-days agenda — or the 100-hours to-do list she rolled out in 2007, the last time Democrats had the majority — in favor of a return to the legislative process.
It’s partly a nod to the diverse Democratic majority, whose members hold different views on some issues. But it’s also a part of Democrats’ efforts to revive traditional governing, rather than lurching from crisis to crisis, as had become the norm when Republicans were unable to control their often unruly conservative flank. Under new House rules, every bill must pass through committee before coming to a vote on the floor.
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