In another outcome driven by the Democrats regaining the House majority, the new Democratic chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee has said the committee will be holding hearings “on the mysteries swirling around Trump’s bizarre relationship with Putin and his cronies”. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Representative Eliot Engel (D-NY) made the announcement both through an official statement and on Twitter, where he wrote, “We will be holding hearings on the mysteries swirling around Trump’s bizarre relationship with Putin and his cronies, and how those dark dealings affect our national security…Every time Trump meets with Putin, the country is told nothing. America deserves the truth and the Foreign Affairs Committee will seek to get to the bottom of it.”
We will be holding hearings on the mysteries swirling around Trump’s bizarre relationship with Putin and his cronies, and how those dark dealings affect our national security.
— Eliot Engel (@RepEliotEngel) January 13, 2019
Engel’s comments and announcement come on the heels of two developments related to President Trump’s relationship to Russia. The first of these was the report that the FBI launched a counterintelligence investigation into whether Trump might be an asset of Russia following Trump’s May 2017 firing of FBI Director James Comey, as well as Trump’s subsequent behavior, which included Trump hosting Russian officials in the White House the very next day and revealing classified information to them. The second development came from reports yesterday about Trump’s alleged attempts to keep information about his meetings with Vladimir Putin secret even from officials in his own administration, allegedly going so far as to confiscate a translator’s notes from at least one of those meetings. According to The Hill:
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) announced that the panel will hold hearings on President Trump’s relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin. In a statement Saturday night that was repeated on Twitter Sunday morning, Engel made reference to what he called Trump’s “dark dealings” with “Putin and his cronies.”…The announcement of the hearings follows a Washington Post report that Trump tried to conceal details from his conversations with Putin from administration officials…Trump has received criticism throughout his presidency for his alleged ties with Russia and his relationship with Putin, as the intelligence community continues to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election. Also last week, the New York Times reported that the FBI had previously opened an investigation into whether Trump had ever worked for Russia against U.S. interests.
The Trump administration has pushed back against these reports, with Trump again repeating his refrain that he has been much tougher on Russia than other presidents. Trump’s claim conflicts with many of his actions, however, including his having his administration drag their heels on sanctions against Russia imposed by Congress, the imposition of which only finally occurred after the alleged nerve toxin poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal on British soil by Russia led to sanctions and ejection of Russian diplomats by multiple countries allied with Great Britain.
Democrats are making it clear that they will use the power of their House majority, which gives them the chairmanships of all the committees and the subpoena power that goes with those chairmanships, to investigate Trump and his administration and provide oversight that was largely lacking when Republicans held majorities in both houses of Congress.