Democrats are moving their case for impeachment beyond Robert Mueller’s Russia report and are now demanding information about the spending of taxpayer money at Trump’s hotels and other business properties. Democrats believe that they are seeing violations of the U.S. Constitution that many believe will bolster the case for impeachment.
Democrats believe that there were ”multiple efforts” by Donald Trump and administration officials to spend federal dollars at his business properties. Just last week Vice President Mike Pence stayed at a Trump resort in Doonberg, Ireland.
Democrats have described Pence’s visit and the possibility that next year’s G-7 summit will be held at Trump’s Florida golf resort, as corrupting the presidency. They add that payments from foreign officials are particularly troubling. The emolument clause in the Constitution prevents a president from taking gifts from other governments.
“We have been focused on the Mueller report, and that is a very small part of the overall picture,” said Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin, a member of the Judiciary panel. “We must get America focused on the ongoing violations against basic constitutional principles.”
Jerrold Nadler, the Judiciary Committee chairman, said taxpayer spending in Trump’s business empire is “of grave concern” to his panel, which is weighing whether to recommend articles of impeachment.
Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Elijah Cummings said his committee “does not believe that U.S. taxpayer funds should be used to personally enrich President Trump, his family, and his companies.”
Democrats do, however, stress that they are not pivoting their investigations away from former special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia report, but with many of their subpoenas bogged down in court, and Mueller’s findings fading in the public’s attention, a reboot is underway. The new focus will be on other allegations of possible wrongdoing by Trump that lawmakers feel may resonate even more with the public.
Rep. David Cicilline, a Democrat on the Judiciary panel, says he believes the misuse of “public funds or other examples of financial corruption makes Americans especially angry. And while people have heard a lot about the Mueller report, they may know less about the emoluments clause,” he said.
“I think you’ll see a lot more of that in the coming months,” Cicilline added.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has echoed the Democratic investigators, calling Trump’s properties “a cesspool of corruption” and a “black hole for taxpayers’ money.” She also noted that Trump’s trips to his Florida resort Mar-a-Lago can cost millions of dollars per visit.
“The American people deserve a government that serves their interests, not one that’s being exploited to line the president’s pockets,” Pelosi wrote in a blog post.
Along with reviewing his use of his properties, the Judiciary panel is also expected to begin investigating hush-money payments that Trump paid to kill potentially embarrassing stories. Democrats have subpoenaed the Department of Homeland Security to explore whether the Trump offered pre-emptive pardons for lawbreaking. More subpoenas are likely.
Not all Democrats believe impeachment is the answer.
“I’ve been traveling all of August,” said Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas. “This is not an issue people bring up. I think a lot of people would rather just vote him out, vote the president out.”
Other Democrats argue that impeachment is a process without a payoff because the Republican-run Senate is not going to vote to remove Trump.
Rep, Jamie Raskin, who supports impeachment proceedings says, “That’s a legitimate thing for us to think about, and it’s a political puzzle we have to solve over the next few months.”