Rep. Heck on how Congress may pursue evidence against President Trump
As Democrats inch closer to gaining majority control of the House, many eyes are watching on whether they will challenge President Trump, potentially starting impeachment proceedings.
Congressmember Denny Heck represents Washington’s 10th District (parts of Pierce, Thurston, and Mason Counties). He has promoted that there is evidence Trump committed crimes en route to the White House. Now he is providing more details about what Congress will do about it, as well as other issues that will arise in the coming year.
“We have Michael Cohen, going to court (Wednesday) to get his sentence, having pleaded guilty to a crime — that the sentencing memo submitted by the prosecutors, says he was directed to commit by the president,” Heck said for starters.
While impeachment is under the purview of Congress, there is also talk of indicting the president, which would be the responsibility of law enforcement. But whether or not a sitting president can be indicted is an ongoing legal debate.
“There is sufficient written material in the past for both sides, though the prevailing point of view now seems to be that you cannot indict him,” Heck said. “Though I think we’re going to test that proposition here in the not-to-distant future. I don’t think it will be tested over the Cohen guilty plea for campaign finance reform laws that he broke, which are a felony and the President has essentially been named as an unindicted co-conspirator.”
Heck also points to a yet-to-be produced report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller, summing up the current investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Heck will be looking for a “smoking gun” in that report, perhaps to do with obstruction of justice, or conspiring with Russians to interfere with the election.
“I don’t have eyes on (Mueller’s) work in that regard,” Heck said. “I’m just piecing together all the clues from the multiple indictments. Remember, we’ve had 192 criminal charges, 26 indictments or guilty pleas out of all this. A lot of paperwork with respect to sentencing memos and filings. You have to read between the lines to get a sense of where he’s going.”
Trump vs Congress
When Congress was previously looking into issues with the 2016 election, Republicans would not allow any investigation of Russian connections, Heck says. That’s going to change with incoming House chair Adam Schiff of California.
“(He’s) indicated a strong interest in examining that very point, with respect to things like: why did Deutsche Bank so willingly loan money to the Trump origination when no other bank on the face of the planet would? What does that mean? … and then of course, over the last couple of months we’ve had raised the issue of if there are financial entanglements with Saudi Arabia …” Heck said.
Heck further argues that alliances, like that with Saudi Arabia, are not only built on shared interests, but values. He says that murdering journalists is not something America does. Nor does it drop bombs on wedding parties as has happened in Yemen.
“Well, we have by mistake,” Ross pointed out. “That happened in Afghanistan.”
“This is a repeated thing,” Heck replied.” The civil war in Yemen has triggered one of the great humanitarian crisis in modern history. Unfortunately, I fear our sale of arms and support of Saudi Arabia makes us complicit in that. I find that unacceptable.”