WASHINGTON – The House Oversight and Judiciary Committees have opened investigations into Vice President Mike Pence’s stay at a Trump golf resort during his trip to Ireland this week, the latest inquiry into the administration as Democrats continue to weigh impeachment.
Oversight and reform panel Chairman Elijah Cummings, D-Baltimore, sent letters to the White House, Pence, the Secret Service and the Trump Organization Thursday requesting information on costs related to the vice president’s stay at the resort.
Pence attended meetings in Dublin Monday and Tuesday, but chose to sleep in Trump’s Doonbeg hotel 180 miles away on the opposite side of the country. It’s a decision that Democrats see as a potential violation of the Constitution’s domestic emoluments clause, which prohibits the president from receiving anything of value from the government beyond a salary.
“The committee does not believe that U.S. taxpayer funds should be used to enrich President (Donald) Trump, his family, and his companies,” Cummings wrote in his letters.
Cummings sent the inquiries two days after Pence Chief of Staff Marc Short told The Washington Post Trump encouraged Pence to stay in Doonbeg. Short said the president suggested Pence “stay at my place.” Later, however, the vice president’s office stated that Trump never “directed” Pence to do so.
Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Kensington, who sits on both the oversight and judiciary committees, said in interviews Friday that Trump’s suggestion to Pence fits within a pattern of “impeachable offenses” Congress should investigate.
Raskin said on MSNBC that he was “ready to subpoena” materials pertinent to the oversight panel’s investigation, describing the Trump administration as “the most lawless presidency we’ve seen in our lifetime.”
Democrats have faced enormous push back from the administration during a string of committee investigations into Trump’s businesses and conduct. The administration has refused to turn over some documents, directed aides not to cooperate, and filed court challenges saying Congress did not have the right to obtain the kind of information the probes have requested.
But Democrats have insisted Trump is legally required to comply without the need to issue subpoenas.
Trump’s directions to administration officials not to cooperate with congressional investigations is impeachable conduct, Raskin said.
“We need to lay out what these constitutional offenses are” and explain to Americans how the emoluments clause works and its importance, Raskin said Friday on Washington’s WAMU radio.
Trump’s tangled business relationships are facing heightened scrutiny after he recently promoted hosting the next G-7 summit at his Doral resort in Florida.
House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-New York, last month called the potential emoluments violations a matter of “significant interest and grave concern to the committee as it considers whether to recommend articles of impeachment.”
Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, along with District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine, sued the president over emoluments violations but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Virginia dismissed the case in July. The two filed a petition on Aug. 26 for a rehearing of the case before the full court.
The impending emoluments inquiries form part of a much larger nexus of investigations into the Trump administration and campaign, including probes into Trump’s tax returns, hush money payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal – with whom Trump had alleged affairs – and numerous incidents of potential obstruction of justice, as outlined in the Mueller report.
Amid Democratic leadership’s slow-walking of impeachment before the 2020 election, some lawmakers like Raskin are exasperated with the prolonged delays.
“We have a president who is behaving like a king, and it’s intolerable,” he told MSNBC.