Schiff: House Intel focusing on Moscow Trump Tower deal, potential money laundering
Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California said the House Intelligence Committee is investigating President Trump's pursuit of a Trump Tower in Moscow and potential money laundering by the Trump Organization on behalf of Russia.
"The Moscow Trump Tower deal, for example, is among the most disturbing, because that's something the president was pursuing throughout the midst of the presidential campaign," Schiff, the committee's chairman, said on "Face the Nation" Sunday. "We are certainly looking deep into this set of issues around Moscow at Trump Tower. We're also looking at persistent allegations that the Russians have been laundering money through the Trump Organization. I don't know that that's true. But if it is, again, it's a profound compromise of this president."
On Saturday, Mr. Trump balked at the committee's broadening of its investigation into his finances, calling the investigation "the collusion delusion" during a speech at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference.
Schiff told "Face the Nation" it would be "perilous" to ignore the president's financial interests or allow him to draw "red lines" around portions of the investigation, and pointed to the Trump Tower Moscow project as potentially "compromising."
"While saying he was having no business dealings with the Russians, that was a deal that stood to make him more money than any other deal in his life," Schiff said. "And it was a deal where he was pursuing help from the Kremlin from Putin himself at a time when Putin was seeking relief from sanctions and that is the most compromising circumstance so that I can imagine."
Asked if he has "direct evidence" of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, Schiff pointed to emails setting up the infamous 2016 Trump Tower meeting between campaign officials and a Russian lawyer, arguing there is "abundant evidence of collusion." But Schiff said he will wait for the conclusion of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation before determining whether he would support impeachment proceedings.
Michael Cohen, the president's former attorney, testified before the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday the president "knew of and directed the Trump Moscow negotiations throughout the campaign and lied about it."
"He lied about it because he never expected to win the election. He also lied about it because he stood to make hundreds of millions of dollars on the Moscow real estate project. And so I lied about it, too, because Mr. Trump had made clear to me, through his personal statements to me that we both knew were false and through his lies to the country, that he wanted me to lie," Cohen testified.
Cohen told a Senate panel in 2017 that the plan to develop a tower in Moscow was dropped by the end of January 2016, when in fact the discussions went on for several more months. Cohen pleaded guilty to making false statements to Congress, among other charges, and was sentenced to three years in federal prison.
Schiff said the House would also be looking at "persistent" allegations that Russians laundered money through the Trump Organization. In order to get to the bottom of those claims, Schiff said his committee panel will talk to some of the banks that did business with Mr. Trump, including Deutsche Bank, which he says has had a "history of laundering Russian money."
"But we also will want to speak with the the accountants, the chief financial officers for the Trump Organization and others who would have information about the Moscow Trump Tower deal about the issue of money laundering. In fact, we're bringing you Felix Sater in to talk about Moscow Trump Tower in a couple of weeks," Schiff said. "So there are any number of witnesses that can shed light on whether America's national security is compromised because the president has been pursuing financial interests with the Russians."
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