U.S. President Donald Trump says there is no basis for a powerful legislative committee to investigate his personal finances.
“No other politician has to go through that. It’s called presidential harassment. And it’s unfortunate and it really does hurt our country,” Trump responded Wednesday when asked by a reporter about the House Intelligence Committee’s decision to examine his finances.
Trump took aim at the committee’s chairman, Adam Schiff, a Democrat and prominent critic of the president.
“Under what basis would he do that? He has no basis to do that. He’s just a political hack. He’s trying to build a name for himself,” Trump said of Schiff at the conclusion of a brief event in the White House Roosevelt Room to announce David Malpass as the U.S. nominee to run the World Bank.
Hours earlier, Schiff declared that the committee, in the hands of opposition Democrats following last November’s midterm congressional election, would broaden its investigation to go “beyond Russia” and examine whether Trump’s concern for his financial interests are driving his policy decisions and other actions as president.
The committee’s wider mandate will “allow us to investigate any credible allegation that financial interests or other interests are driving decision-making of the president or anyone in the administration,” Schiff told reporters. “That pertains to any credible allegations of leverage by the Russians or the Saudis or anyone else.”
In a statement, the California congressman and former federal prosecutor said the committee would continue examining Russia’s actions during the 2016 presidential election as well as contacts between Moscow and Trump’s campaign team, but now would also scrutinize “whether any foreign actor has sought to compromise or holds leverage, financial or otherwise, over Donald Trump, his family, his business, or his associates.”
The committee voted earlier Wednesday to send more than 50 transcripts of interviews from its Russia investigation to special counsel Robert Mueller.
When the panel was under Republican control last year, lawmakers of the then-majority party in the House of Representatives sought to bring their investigation to an end, despite protests from Democrats that it was premature to reach any conclusions.
Trump, during his State of the Union address Tuesday to lawmakers of both chambers, termed such inquiries by congressional committees “ridiculous partisan investigations.”
In his speech, Trump stated, “If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation.”