Wednesday 23 October 2019

Probe will ask if Trump is under the influence of 'foreign powers'

US President Donald Trump. Photo: AP
US President Donald Trump. Photo: AP

Chris Riotta

The House Intelligence Committee will shift its focus into probing whether US President Donald Trump or any of his associates are under the influence of foreign powers, the chairman of the committee has revealed.

Adam Schiff, a California Democrat who leads the House investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, said in a new interview that he is worried about whether Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office has thoroughly probed the president's financial ties to Russia.

"From what we can see either publicly or otherwise, it's very much an open question whether this is something the special counsel has looked at," Mr Schiff told NBC News in a report that was published yesterday.

The chairman said that those ties could be creating potential conflicts of interest in the White House, pointing to revelations about a secretive real-estate project in Moscow that the president's former fixer and long-time attorney Michael Cohen made during a public testimony earlier this year.

"I certainly agree that the counter-intelligence investigation may be more important than the criminal investigation because it goes to a present threat to our national security - whether the president and anybody around him are compromised by a foreign power," Mr Schiff said.

"That's not necessarily an issue that can be covered in indictments."

Mr Trump's Russia connections have stirred controversy ever since he assumed the Oval Office in 2017.

That year, his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort - who is scheduled to begin his nearly seven-year prison sentence over foreign lobbying and witness tampering charges - was forced to register as a foreign agent for his work with a pro-Russian Ukranian political party.

His son-in-law and White House senior adviser Jared Kushner's Russian connections and foreign debts have also been a subject of scrutiny by House investigators.

© Independent News Service

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