US lawmakers have demanded documents from more than 60 associates of Donald Trump as part of a fresh investigation into corruption allegations.
Some 81 individuals and organisations have been issued with requests for documents by the House Judiciary Committee, including Wikileaks, Cambridge Analytica and the National Rifle Association.
Also on the list are the President’s former strategist Steve Bannon, former Press Secretary, Sean Spicer, former communications director and close ally Hope Hicks and his sons, Eric Trump and Donald Trump Junior.
And former Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, who recused himself from any investigations to do with Russia or the Trump election campaign while in office, has also been ordered to produce documents.
Asked by a reporter whether he will cooperate with panel chairman Jerrold Nadler, Mr Trump said: “I cooperate all the time with everybody.”
It points to a wide-ranging inquiry from the committee, which has new power to instigate probes into the President’s behaviour since the Democrats took control of the house in November’s mid-term elections.
“We have seen the damage done to our democratic institutions in the two years that the Congress refused to conduct responsible oversight. Congress must provide a check on abuses of power,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler said in a statement.
The presence of National Inquirer publisher David Pecker and his firm American Media Inc suggests it will touch on claims Trump paid for media stories about his alleged affair with porn actress Stormy Daniels to be “killed”.
But the list also names Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and ex-Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix, suggesting claims of collusion with Russia will also be a focus.
Also on the list is Brittany Kaiser, the business development director for Cambridge Analytica, who appeared on a panel at the launch of the Leave.EU pro-Brexit campaign.
Ms Kaiser later said the firm had undertaken no work for the Brexit campaigners.
Among the committee’s aims is determining whether Trump may have obstructed justice by ousting perceived enemies at the Justice Department, such as former FBI Director James Comey, and abused his presidential power by possibly offering pardons or tampering with witnesses.
“The House Judiciary Committee’s letter has been received by the White House,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said.
“The (White House) Counsel’s Office and relevant White House officials will review it and respond at the appropriate time.” Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said the department has received the committee’s letter and is evaluating the request.
Comey was leading an investigation into Russia activities in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and possible collusion with Trump’s campaign when the president fired him in May 2017.
The investigation was subsequently taken over by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is expected to end his investigation and report his findings to Attorney General William Barr in coming weeks.
Nadler said Mueller and prosecutors conducting investigators in the Manhattan US Attorney’s Office are aware of the committee’s action.
“We will act quickly to gather this information, assess the evidence, and follow the facts where they lead with full transparency with the American people,” Nadler said.
Trump maintains that his campaign did not collude with Russia and has repeatedly attacked the investigation, Mueller and the Mueller staff on Twitter .
The committee’s investigation will cast a wider net than Mueller, whose investigation is focused on specific crimes. The panel also is looking at whether Trump has used the White House for personal enrichment in violation of the Constitution’s emoluments clause.
Several US congressional committees are pursuing investigations focusing on Trump.
Democrats say Cohen’s testimony before the House Oversight Committee last week directly implicated Trump in various crimes including campaign finance violations.
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