US House panel launches new probe into Trump White House, campaign, businesses

A file image of President Trump at a recent conference

A file image of President Trump at a recent conference

Speaking at the White House on Tuesday, Trump responded to a sweeping new probe from the House Judiciary Committee by calling it "presidential harassment" and a "witch hunt". "The White House security clearance system is broken, and it needs both congressional oversight and legislative reform". The chairman said at the time that the security clearance abuses are "grave breaches of national security at the highest levels".

The White House has lambasted Democrats for launching a "disgraceful" inquiry into alleged obstruction of justice and abuse of power by some of President Donald Trump's closest allies.

More than five House committees are now investigating alleged attempts by Russian Federation to meddle in the 2016 election campaign, the president's tax returns and potential conflicts of interest involving Mr Trump's family.

A former White House special counsel considers special prosecutor Robert Mueller "an American hero".

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler told CNN that nobody should draw conclusions just because some people affiliated with Trump's administration and businesses were not included on the initial list. "Congress must provide a check on abuses of power".

At the White House, Trump was asked if he would cooperate with Nadler's probe.

"I cooperate all the time with everybody", he said before adding: "You know the lovely thing?" No collusion. It's all a hoax.

Trump himself swatted away the probe as a "political hoax", but said he would cooperate with the probe. The committee's press release offered no evidence for any of the allegations. The panel is prepared to use its subpoena power if needed, the lawyer said.

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The probe will try to ascertain, among other things, whether Trump obstructed justice by removing perceived enemies in the Justice Department such as ex-FBI Director James Comey.

Comey was leading an investigation into Russian activities in the 2016 United States presidential election and possible collusion with Trump's campaign when the president fired him in May 2017. He said he will consult with committee members about next steps. Representatives for the White House and Justice Department said the requests are being reviewed.

The probe comes following mid-term elections in the U.S. that gave Democrats a majority over Trump's Republicans in the House. But Nadler said talk of trying to remove Trump from office is premature.

He said it was unlikely that investigations into Trump or his inner circle would prosper for long, whether they stemmed from joint prosecutions or referrals like the Cohen probe. Some of those the committee is seeking documents from are among the dozens charged by Mueller.

Letters to other key players include requests for information on the June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower attended by Kushner, Trump Jr, now-jailed former campaign manager Paul Manafort and a Russian lawyer reportedly close to the Kremlin, and documents surrounding the termination of Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey.

"The American people deserve a Congress that works with the president to address serious issues like immigration, healthcare, and infrastructure".

The House Oversight and Reform Committee received testimony from Cohen last week in a high-profile hearing where he accused Trump of lying to the public about his business interests in Russian Federation, his role in silencing women who alleged sexual encounters during the 2016 campaign and his knowledge of WikiLeaks's hacked material that was damaging to Clinton.

The committee also said today's tranche of requests would not be the last, suggesting investigations by House Democrats could become broader still with time.

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