WASHINGTON – It’s getting more difficult for Republicans to mask concerns about the investigation into President’s Trump ties to Russia, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) said in an interview with PJ Media on Thursday.
“Every single day the revelations are somewhat stunning,” Jayapal said. “I feel like I get whiplash looking from one scandal to the next. And these are not small things.”
Trump dismissed FBI Director James Comey on May 9, then told NBC News that he was frustrated by the investigation into potential collusion between Trump’s camp and Russia during his presidential bid when considering firing Comey. “In fact when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said ‘you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won’,” Trump said.
Former FBI Director Robert Mueller has since been appointed special counsel to lead the Russia investigation.
Jayapal charged that Trump’s actions – reportedly asking Comey to “let go” his investigation of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and then calling on Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to support the demand – constitute a pattern of obstruction of justice.
“I think now that’s why you’ve seen a handful of Republicans coming out and saying this is very troubling. We do need to address this,” she said.
The freshman congresswoman’s comments came a week after she and Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) introduced a package of legislation aimed at increasing Trump administration transparency and eliminating conflicts of interest at the White House.
The first of four bills prohibits government officials from accepting foreign gifts for official actions, extending an existing prohibition to international activity. The second bill bars executive branch officials from taking part in government activities that influence the president’s financial interests. The third would establish a protected presidential press pool, with the intention of allowing greater media access to the White House, and the fourth would require the president to publically release details concerning business transactions with foreign governments in excess of $10,000.
Jayapal said that she and Raskin have been working on the legislative package for months, though recent reports surrounding the Russia investigation have added incentive. Chief among the congresswoman’s concerns is her perception that Trump has failed to separate his financial interests from his duties as commander in chief. The emoluments clause and the Constitution, she said, dictate that the president divest his assets into a blind trust, but she said Trump has turned his assets over to his relatives while he maintains control.
“The president has to be acting in the interest of the American people and not using the office of the presidency to further his own financial interests,” she said, pointing to Trump attorney Alan Garten’s admission in April during an interview with Pro Publica that the president has the ability to access funds from his trust at will.
Jayapal said that Mueller’s appointment is only the first step in determining the truth about the president’s ties to Russia, as his involvement won’t be sufficient in and of itself. Democratic lawmakers have also called for an independent commission made up by citizen panelists, similar to the 9/11 Commission.
“At every turn, we’re blocked by the Republican majority, and so I don’t think the majority of Democrats are trying to jump forward, but what we’re saying is these are serious, serious issues that the country is debating, and our democracy depends on us getting to the bottom of it,” she said. “So let’s get the facts, let’s stop trying to close down investigations, pretend that it’s not important, and let’s actually try to work together on the thing that we’re here to do and that is to serve and protect our democracy.”