Schiff says some Trump allies misled Congress
Has list of those who didn’t tell truth about Russia
Get ready for a flurry of demands for more people to be charged with lying to Congress.
Now that Michael Cohen has entered a guilty plea for misleading lawmakers over the Trump-Russia investigation, plenty of other targets could face the same thing.
The Democrat likely to become chairman of the House intelligence committee next year, Rep. Adam Schiff, said he has a list of other associates of President Trump he says misled the panel during the last two years about the same Russia matters. But targets go well beyond Mr. Trump. Sen. Chuck Grassley, Iowa Republican, pointed to the three people he has asked the FBI to investigate for making up salacious and unsubstantiated accounts of rape at the hands of Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh. Among them was anti-Trump lawyer Michael Avenatti.
“We had several people lie to Congress during the Kavanaugh hearing and we have suggested them for prosecution because when Congress seeks information from the public they ought to know that it is accurate,” Mr. Grassley told reporters Thursday.
In Cohen’s case, he said in written responses to Congress last year that he stopped negotiating a business deal to build a Trump Tower in Russia once the GOP primaries began during the 2016 campaign. In fact, he now says, he continued those conversations until at least June 2016, or well into the heart of the campaign, and a time when Russian operatives were at work trying to meddle in the election.
Mr. Schiff said he’s convinced other Trump figures “were also untruthful” when they testified to Congress about their dealings with Russia. Lawmakers said it’s possible Cohen and others get called back to provide more information.
The Cohen plea marked another feather in the cap of special counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading an investigation into Russia’s activities and Trump associates’ behavior during the campaign.
But it didn’t sit well with some critics such as Jason Chaffetz, a former Republican chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, who sensed a double standard in Mr. Mueller’s prosecution.
He said former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lied to Congress about her secret emails, and he formally requested the Justice Department investigate her.
“Nothing was done,” Mr. Chaffetz tweeted.
Last year, Democrats were demanding then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions be prosecuted for lying to Congress after he omitted information about meetings with the Russian ambassador during his confirmation process.
Some Republicans had wanted to prosecute former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper for lying after he denied in open testimony in 2013 that the government was scooping up Americans’ information. Just months later, leaks by Edward Snowden showed the government was, in fact, scooping Americans’ phone metadata.
Prosecutions for lying to Congress, outlawed under Title 18, Section 1001 of the U.S. Code, turn out to be rare. In the 60 years up to 2007, just a half-dozen people were convicted, according to a 2006 article in Quinnipiac Law Review.
Some high-profile cases have been brought since then, including baseball players Miguel Tejada and Roger Clemens, both of whom were charged with lying after they testified they didn’t use performance-enhancing drugs.
Mr. Tejada pleaded to a lesser misdemeanor of withholding information from Congress, while Mr. Clemens was acquitted at trial.
Earlier this year authorities unsealed an indictment against Kemal Oksuz, a Turkish-American businessman accused of lying to Congress over financing for a 2013 trip taken by members of Congress.
Rep. Adam Schiff said he’s convinced some Trump figures testified untruthfully.