Maxine Waters: ‘Follow the Oil’ to Get to Roots of Russia Investigation

WASHINGTON – Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) thanked the media for advancing the investigation of connections between Russia and the Trump campaign, arguing that Congress has not done its job.

“If it was not for the media, we wouldn't be as far as we are now in understanding what has been going on. The Congress of the United States has not done their job. We have not been the balance, the check and the balance on the executive,” Waters said during the Center for American Progress Idea Summit on Tuesday. “Media, thank you. Dig in there, keep doing what you are doing. Keep unfolding and making it very apparent to all of the American citizens that something is tragically wrong with the president of the United States of America and his allies.”

Waters said she believes there was collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.

“Just to think about the way that he gave up this classified information and the way that he has tried to obstruct the investigations by firing folks. You can't find any better person than Sally Yates. Give her a big round of applause. And, of course, while I thought that [former FBI Director James] Comey should have been fired when he first got in, if he was really concerned about him – he wasn’t concerned about him. As a matter of fact he praised him all over the country. It was only when he asked for additional resources to be able to do a credible investigation that he got fired,” Waters said.

“So here you have the president of the United States, ladies and gentlemen, this is not normal. It's something very wrong with this picture, and I don't know when Americans are going to get so outraged that they will say to all of the elected officials, Republicans and Democrats and everybody, you have to do what you know you should be doing. You have to identify and lay out for the American public everything that he has done, these firings, these obstruction of justice, etc., and then the final analysis, Maxine Waters was right, you have to impeach him,” she added.

Waters said Congress should not wait until the 2018 midterm elections to seek impeachment.

“I know that there are those who are talking about we are going to get ready for the next election. No, we can't wait that long. We don't need to wait that long. He will have destroyed this country by then. We cannot wake up every morning to another crisis, to another scandal,” she said.

“We don't have to be afraid to use the word impeachment. We don't have to think that impeachment is out of our reach. All we have to do is make sure that we are talking to the American public and that we are keeping them involved and that we are resisting every day and challenging every day, and we are calling this president to account for what he is doing and what he is saying. I believe in this very strongly,” she added.

Waters argued that following the “money” and the “oil” would lead to connections between the Trump campaign and Russia. However, last month, Trump’s Treasury Department declined to issue Exxon, where Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was CEO, a waiver to drill in Russia.

“Even though I can't get into it in depth, it is all about, in the final analysis, lifting those sanctions – that's why people don't ask why did Putin want to have Trump so badly. Why was he against Hillary? It's not about public policy. It's about oil. It's about drilling and lifting those sanctions and Tillerson is in on it also. Tillerson, the CEO coming from Exxon who lobbied for lifting the sanctions, who negotiated lifting those sanctions with Putin, and negotiated the multibillion-dollar deal for drilling,” she said.

“It is all about the money. Follow the money. Follow the oil. I'm convinced that if we had had the kind of investigations that we should have had by now we would have connected those dots. We would know exactly what was done. I must tell you, even though we have those who say we are finally moving, we are not moving. We are too slow,” she added.

While the investigation continues, Waters said Democrats should not work with Trump.

“We're not going to be able to move an agenda. There’s some people who say, ‘can't you try and work with him?’ No, we cannot. He's a liar. He cannot be trusted. He will say one thing today and another thing tomorrow,” she said.

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) said gridlock in the GOP-led Congress is not “bad” in every case.

“It would be very easy for us to get things done, but you may not want them things done. A few years ago, remember the government shut down, 16-day shutdown? Ted Cruz told us something very simple. If you help us repeal Obamacare we'll reopen the government, and I don't think most Americans wanted us to do that. I am telling you now, I have good friends and get along just fine with lots of Republicans. It is not a problem of temperament. It is a problem of core belief and values,” he said at the summit.

“They think that rich people don't have enough money and poor people have too much money. That's why they're always trying to cut taxes and regulation on the rich and trying to cut meals on wheels and TRIO and everything else for the rest of us. They believe that and they're aggressive about it. For us to get along with them, we have to capitulate to their demands. And I'm telling you, it's not all bad that there's gridlock right now. There maybe another period of time in American history where it is bad, but I'm telling you, for the last four or five years, since 2010, if we didn't fight back, this country would be poorer for it,” he added.

Ellison cited Dodd-Frank as an example of when gridlock is good.

“For folks who want to get something done, I don't think you want me to gut Dodd/Frank. So understand that this is not simply bad kids playing bad in the sandbox. This is a group that is trying to change the fundamental culture of American society, diminish the role of government dramatically. And a group of other people who believe you ought to be able to retire, you ought to be able to earn a decent living, there ought to be some infrastructure, we should have public education and healthcare should be a right and everybody should be treated fairly,” he said.