House Democrats have already gone to war with President Donald Trump. But there’s one target they’re skittish of hitting too hard: his children.
In public and private, Democrats see potential pitfalls in dragging Trump’s adult children into their political squabbles with the president. So even as they ramp up their investigations into Trump, senior Democrats are reluctant to scrutinize Trump’s adult children too much as part of their sprawling probes into Trump’s administration, campaign and business empire.
Democrats, in fact, would prefer to let federal prosecutors handle the family while they take on the president themselves.
Yet Trump’s family members — including Donald Jr., Eric, Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner — are so deeply involved in his business and presidency that it likely would be impossible to take a completely hands-off approach.
“Getting to family members I think is dangerous,” said Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), a senior member of the House Oversight and Reform Committee. “Only because it gets real personal, real fast. And it risks backfiring.
“Maybe at some point we have to call them in,” Connolly added, “but I’d rather let prosecutors look at that.”
Those concerns have more to do with political optics than investigative necessities: Democrats fear that the appearance of going after Trump’s children is the one thing that could elicit sympathy for a president who has attacked Democratic investigations as “a big, fat, fishing expedition desperately in search of a crime” and “presidential harassment.”
A Democratic source said Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) has privately expressed reservations about directly investigating Trump’s adult children. Last week, Cummings said the committee would follow up on all potential leads from former Trump attorney Michael Cohen’s bombshell testimony before the panel. Cummings is expected to seek interviews with individuals implicated in Cohen’s testimony.
Cummings declined to comment.
The Oversight panel is battling with the White House over the process for approving Kushner’s security clearance, including whether Trump intervened in getting the clearance approved. The White House has refused to turn over documents related to Kushner’s clearance, and the committee is likely to issue a subpoena as early as next week, according to Democratic sources. Ivanka Trump could soon find herself ensnared in that probe, the Oversight chief said.
Moreover, the House Judiciary Committee has demanded documents from Kushner, Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump and dozens of others as part of a sweeping probe into allegations of obstruction of justice, corruption and abuses of power.
Cohen gave lawmakers a road map for their myriad investigations into Trump and his inner circle. He name-dropped several individuals who purportedly have knowledge of crimes Cohen has pleaded guilty to and crimes that he said the president committed.