Raskin Releases New Information Suggesting Coordination Between Committee Republicans and Trump Attorneys to Block Evidence of Foreign Government Payments to President Trump
Washington, D.C. (March 13, 2023)—Rep. Jamie Raskin, Ranking Member of the Committee on Oversight and Accountability, sent a letter to Chairman James Comer, raising concerns about the seriousness of purpose behind Committee Republicans’ investigation into presidential ethics and the corrupting influence of foreign payments.
Following public comments by Chairman Comer acknowledging the unresolved conflicts-of-interests crisis left by the Trump Administration, Ranking Member Raskin calls into question the Committee’s hyper-partisan treatment of foreign government payments and the committee’s other recent actions, including the issuance of the Committee’s first subpoena, an invasive and overly broad subpoena for 14 years of private individuals’ personal financial information.
“Your apparent decision to permit former President Trump’s attorneys to speak on behalf of the Committee and allow Mazars to stop producing evidence of President Trump’s own misconduct is, by itself, an astonishing delegation of the legislative power of the Chair to a twice-impeached former President whose Executive Branch actions are still actively under Committee investigation. Yet I fear your actions may also reveal that your priority is catering to former President Trump’s demands that Congressional Republicans use our Committee’s power to seek any and all information that could be used to politically weaken and embarrass President Biden, his family, or, seemingly, anyone they have ever associated with, in service of President Trump’s recently announced bid to recapture the presidency,” wrote Ranking Member Raskin.
Last fall, Committee Democrats began receiving documents from Mazars after the Committee’s subpoena, upheld at every level of the federal courts, resulted in a court-supervised settlement agreement requiring Mazars to produce financial information relating to President Trump and his businesses entanglements while in office. In November 2022, the Committee released its first set of documents that revealed that authoritarian foreign governments, including the People’s Republic of China and Saudi Arabia, spent hundreds of thousands of dollars at Trump-owned properties while Mr. Trump was President, particularly at sensitive times for those countries’ relations with the United States. The first tranche of Mazars documents only deepened Committee Democrats’ concerns about President Trump’s flagrant violations of the foreign emoluments clause of the Constitution, which is designed to prevent financial entanglements between foreign princes, kings, and governments with the President and other federal officials, as well as their justifiable fears that these payments may have compromised our foreign policy and national security interests.
Despite the striking and extensive evidence that foreign governments sought to influence the Trump Administration by playing to President Trump’s financial interests, Committee Republicans appear to have attempted to bury all such evidence at the direction of former President Trump’s attorneys. On January 19, 2023, Patrick Strawbridge, counsel for Donald Trump, wrote to counsel for Mazars, stating “I do not know the status of Mazars production, but my understanding is that the Committee has no interest in forcing Mazars to complete it and is willing to release it from further obligations under the settlement agreement.” When counsel for Mazars sought clarification, Mr. Strawbridge confirmed that this direction had been provided to him, twice, by the Acting General Counsel of the House of Representatives, in his capacity as counsel to the Committee.
In his letter, Ranking Member Raskin also raises serious concerns regarding the Committee’s first subpoena of the 118th Congress, issued after breaking a long-standing Committee practice of providing at least 48-hour notice to the Minority. The overbroad subpoena, which requires Bank of America to produce “all financial records” for three private individuals from January 20, 2009, to the present—a 14-year period—suggests that Committee Republicans’ interest in President Biden and his family is not about pursuing relevant facts or informing legislation but rather to conduct “a dragnet of political opposition research on behalf of former President Trump.”
“While I concur that the ethics and disclosure laws governing Executive Branch officials demand reform, as the actions of the Trump Administration have demonstrated, the actions you have taken are inconsistent with a good faith interest in this matter. The Committee simply cannot coordinate with former President Trump’s attorneys to obstruct a lawful subpoena investigating his demonstrated corruption, then issue an invasive and overbroad subpoena based on an investigation of the business dealings of his political rival’s son, who has never served in government,” wrote Ranking Member Raskin.
Click here to read the letter.