Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Trump Responds To Expanding House Investigations


We're going to bring in now NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson. She's at the White House where the president responded to the expanding House investigations today. Hey there, Mara.


CORNISH: So first a little reaction to what you heard from Congressman Raskin.

LIASSON: I think what you heard from Congressman Raskin and other Democrats is they want to very methodically investigate the president. They would like to lay out a damning case with lots of evidence but not hurdle all the way to impeachment, which could cause a backlash. Up until now, Democrats have been saying, we have to investigate the president; we have to wait for the Mueller report. I wouldn't be surprised if pretty soon they'll say it's too close to an election to talk about impeachment; we need to let the voters decide.

I think what they're trying to do is avoid all of the perils of looking like you're doing a partisan investigation but lay out a case against the president with lots and lots of evidence.

CORNISH: Now, when the president was asked today if he would cooperate with the expanding congressional investigations, here's what he said.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I cooperate all the time with everybody. And you know the beautiful thing? No collusion - it's all a hoax.

CORNISH: Should we expect this White House to cooperate?

LIASSON: In the past, the president has said he'd cooperate with Bob Mueller, for instance, and then fought tooth and nail to turn over certain things to him. So I wouldn't be surprised if the White House does claim executive privilege for some of these requests.

The other thing that's working against the White House is that Donald Trump ordered his own Justice Department to turn over documents and information to Republican investigators about the investigations of Hillary Clinton's emails, about the spurious allegations he made that somehow Obama had wiretapped him. So he now is setting a precedent for his own Justice Department to turn things over to Democrats.

But the other thing is despite what the president just said, these investigations are not just about collusion - possible collusion with the Russians. They're about possible financial crimes, obstruction of justice, violations of the Emoluments Clause. The facts on the ground have changed. And now you have Democrats with subpoenas.

The president does not like being investigated. As a matter of fact, he tweeted, I am an innocent man being persecuted. And he also tweeted that somehow the Cohen hearings had something to do with the failure of the summit with Kim Jong Un in Hanoi. So this is clearly on his mind 24 hours a day.

CORNISH: Now, to follow up on that, last week, we saw House Republicans use the Michael Cohen hearing to cast doubt on Cohen and also to try and undermine what Democrats are interested in investigating. What can they do to defend the president in this process? What should we expect?

LIASSON: Well, we haven't seen them really defend the president. They're mostly attacking his critics the way they went after Michael Cohen. And right now, the shoe is on the other foot. Remember; the Republicans investigated Benghazi for about five years, and they didn't consider that excessive. As a matter of fact, Kevin McCarthy, the Republican leader in the House, even admitted at one point that the great success of the Benghazi investigations was that it drove Hillary Clinton's poll numbers down.

So we're seeing another chapter in our ongoing civics lesson. This is what it means to have two coequal branches of government. The president has a lot of powers to do what he wants, but, as Jamie Raskin just said, the Democrats have a constitutional responsibility to do oversight. And in divided government, that's what you get. They have subpoenas, and they can get information now.

CORNISH: That's NPR's Mara Liasson at the White House. Mara, thank you.

LIASSON: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Mara Liasson
Mara Liasson is a national political correspondent for NPR. Her reports can be heard regularly on NPR's award-winning newsmagazine programs Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Liasson provides extensive coverage of politics and policy from Washington, DC — focusing on the White House and Congress — and also reports on political trends beyond the Beltway.