President Trump lashed out at House Democratic leaders Tuesday, saying they have “gone stone cold CRAZY” by opening a far-reaching corruption investigation aimed at him and that the move had undermined opportunities to work together on legislation.
“It’s too bad, because I’d rather see them do legislation,” Trump told reporters at an afternoon White House event, where he ticked off a few issues on which he said he and Democrats could work together. “Instead of doing infrastructure, instead of doing health care, instead of doing so many things that they should be doing, they want to play games.”
In tweets earlier in the day, Trump said letters sent Monday by the House Oversight Committee to 81 people and organizations associated with him were meant to “harass “innocent people.” And he said the new investigation was born of Democrats’ frustration with not being able to prove coordination between Trump’s campaign and Russia in the 2016 presidential campaign.
“Now that they realize the only Collusion with Russia was done by Crooked Hillary Clinton & the Democrats, Nadler, Schiff and the Dem heads of the Committees have gone stone cold CRAZY,” Trump wrote, referring to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.) and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (Calif.).
In subsequent tweets, Trump accused Democrats of conducting a “big, fat, fishing expedition” and wrote in all capital letters, “PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT!”
The president’s angry response came a day after Nadler sent letters demanding all communication in connection with a host of controversies surrounding Trump, as the panel looks into whether the president and his administration have engaged in obstruction of justice, corruption and abuse of power.
The document request seeks information from Trump’s two adult sons, business associates and political confidants, among others. It touches on a wide array of matters, including the president’s business dealings with Russia, the firing of James B. Comey as FBI director and hush payments made to women who say they had affairs with Trump.
Also on Tuesday, the House Intelligence Committee announced that it has hired Daniel Goldman, a former federal prosecutor with a history of trying securities fraud, racketeering and international organized crime to lead its investigation of Trump’s alleged ties to Russia.
In another sign of growing tensions between Trump and House Democrats, the White House rebuffed a separate request Tuesday for documents pertaining to the security clearance process, a move that drastically increases the chances of a subpoena from the House Oversight Committee.
In a letter to Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), that committee’s chairman, White House Counsel Pat A. Cipollone said the committee request for the information was “without legal support, clearly premature, and suggests a breach of the constitutionally required accommodation process.”
Defending his panel’s sweeping request Monday, Nadler said that House Democrats have “a responsibility to investigate these matters and hold hearings for the public to have all the facts.” He pledged to move quickly.
But the extensive scope could bolster claims by Trump and Republicans that congressional Democrats are seeking to undermine the president and cripple his 2020 reelection effort rather than conduct a disciplined fact-finding inquiry.
Even some Democrats are voicing concern about that.
“Maybe I’m missing something, but the hazard of an omnibus document demand by House judiciary versus discreet, serial ones is that, however legitimate the areas of inquiry, the wide-ranging nature of it is too easily plays into the ‘witch-hunt’ meme,” David Axelrod, a senior adviser to former president Barack Obama, wrote Monday on Twitter.
In a tweet Monday night, Trump quoted Fox News Channel host Sean Hannity asserting that Democrats’ tactics amount to “modern day McCarthyism.”
Nadler’s requests came on the same day that three other House committee chairmen, including Schiff, wrote letters to the White House and the State Department requesting documents related to Trump’s communication with Russian President Vladimir Putin, citing “profound national security, counterintelligence, and foreign policy concerns.”
Congressional investigations of Russian election interference remain ongoing, as does an inquiry by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, who is also examining whether Trump sought to obstruct his investigation.
Eric Trump, one of the president’s sons who helps lead the Trump Organization, also spoke out Tuesday about a document request he received from Nadler.
“I mean, these people are so desperate,” he said of Democrats during an appearance on Fox News Radio. “I mean, that’s what it comes down to. If you can’t win, what do you do? You obstruct, you try and impeach, you try and harass, you try and distract. I mean, that’s all these people know how to do. I mean, they can’t win.”
Rachael Bade and Felicia Sonmez contributed to this report.