The House Judiciary Committee on Monday sent 81 letters requesting documents from President Trump’s businesses, the Trump campaign, Trump’s family, Trump allies and people who have unwittingly found themselves mixed up with Trump. It represents the first big onslaught of requests stemming from the new majority status House Democrats enjoy.
But while some of the names on the list are no surprise, a few are worth picking out. Here are some of the more intriguing inclusions — and one notable omission.
1. Hope Hicks
Hicks’s departure from the White House was a strange one. Just a few months after being elevated to communications director, she abruptly left. Her departure also came just after she testified for nine hours before the House Intelligence Committee and as her role in crafting inaccurate and misleading denials was coming into focus. (She infamously said there “was no communication between the campaign and any foreign entity during the campaign,” and she played a role in the misleading explanation of the 2016 Trump Tower meeting with a Russian lawyer.)
In her testimony, Hicks declined to discuss anything involving events after Trump was sworn into office. But House Democrats may not be as accommodating with her as Republicans were.
2. Allen Weisselberg
If you watched Michael Cohen’s testimony before the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday, you became increasingly more familiar with this name. Weisselberg is the Trump Organization chief financial officer, and his decades of serving the Trumps, his involvement in the hush-money payments to women during the 2016 election, and that he reached an immunity deal with federal prosecutors have led to plenty of intrigue.
Here’s what I wrote a few months back:
... Now we know that he has been implicated in what federal prosecutors have alleged was, in fact, a crime — and what two other parties involved in the transaction are spilling about and have admitted was geared toward the election.
We don’t know how much Weisselberg truly knows about all of this or whether Cohen really went into much detail with him. We do, however, know that this would seem to give prosecutors significant leverage over Weisselberg if he was involved, and his version of events better have squared with what everyone else who has talked about these transactions was saying. Weisselberg’s deal to cooperate was reportedly narrow, but these things can evolve as investigations linger and leverage changes.
3. Michael Flynn Jr.
The Washington Post reported back when Michael Flynn reached his plea deal that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III had been threatening to indict Flynn’s son, Michael Flynn Jr. It is widely speculated that the elder Flynn pleaded guilty in part to protect his son. We do not know what Flynn Jr. might have been accused of, but he could be facing scrutiny he has thus far avoided.
4. K.T. McFarland
Speaking of people who have escaped scrutiny, Flynn’s deputy, McFarland, has faded from public view and has revised inconsistent statements she made about Flynn to investigators. She initially claimed she did not talk to Flynn about any discussions of sanctions with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in late 2016 — the very conversations Flynn lied about. Her attorneys reportedly have convinced the FBI she did not try to mislead them.
5. Peter Smith’s estate
In a scandal full of bizarre figures, Smith is up there. In 2016, he reached out to Russian hackers in an attempt to obtain Hillary Clinton’s emails. After his efforts came to light and he even began speaking with reporters about them, he killed himself in May 2017. He reportedly “left a carefully prepared file of documents.” Also of note here: Smith listed a number of top White House aides in a recruitment document, including Flynn, Stephen K. Bannon and Kellyanne Conway. Bannon and Conway have denied any knowledge of what he was up to.
6. Rhona Graff
Graff has served Trump for three decades, including most notably as his executive assistant and “gatekeeper” at Trump Tower. She has already spoken with the House Intelligence Committee, but that was when Republicans were in charge. On the list of people who know Trump and would know about anything untoward, she is up there with Cohen and Weisselberg.
7. Irakly Kaveladze/Rinat Akhmetshin/Anatoli Samochornov/Rob Goldstone
If these names sound vaguely familiar, it is because they are from a while ago. Goldstone helped broker the 2016 Trump Tower meeting, and the other three participated in it. Kaveladze, also known as “Ike,” is a U.S.-based employee of a Russian real estate company who we eventually found out was the eighth person to take part in the Trump Tower meeting with a Kremlin-connected lawyer. Samochornov was the interpreter. And Akhmetshin is a Russian American lobbyist and former counterintelligence officer who accompanied the Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya.
What might be most notable here is everyone in that meeting got a document request except Veselnitskaya. Perhaps that has something to do with her having been indicted in a separate case in January.
No Ivanka Trump
Speaking of omissions, Ivanka Trump is not on the list even though it includes her husband (Jared Kushner) and two of her brothers (Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump).