House Democrats widen their investigation beyond Mueller's focus

Image: Jerrold Nadler
U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler speaks during a House Rules Committee meeting at the U.S. Capitol on Feb. 25, 2019. Copyright Alex Wong Getty Images file
By Chuck Todd and Mark Murray and Carrie Dann with NBC News Politics
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First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.


WASHINGTON — What's the message that House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler and House Democrats are sending with their request for documents from 81 different Trump associates and entities?

They're not relying on Robert Mueller.

Far from it.

In an interview with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow last night, Nadler said his committee has a different job than Mueller's — or even New York prosecutors'.

"The special prosecutor has a specific mandate to investigate only the possible -- only the Russian interference with the election and possible collusion by the Trump administration or anybody else with that interference with the election, and only to look at crimes," Nadler said.

He continued, "Our job is to protect the rule of law in this country. That means we have to look at the three major threats to the rule of law that we have seen and that is corruption, personal enrichment and violation of the emoluments clause."

Not surprisingly, Team Trump is charging House Democrats with overreach. "This is a dramatic overreach by House Democrats, who cannot control their zeal to overturn President Trump's lawful and legitimate election by any means and process necessary," the 2020 Trump campaign said in a statement.

And even one prominent Democrat wonders if the process — of asking for documents from 81 different individuals and entities — plays into that charge.

Former Obama strategist David Axelrod: "Maybe I'm missing something, but the hazard of an omnibus document demand by House judiciary versus discreet, serial ones is that, however legitimate the areas of inquiry, the wide-ranging nature of it is too easily plays into the 'witch-hunt' meme."

The news from the bombshell report on Fox News

The New Yorker's Jane Mayer makes two big findings in her juicy story on Trump and Fox News.

  1. Fox News had the Stormy Daniels story - during the 2016 campaign - and Fox passed on it: "But Falzone's story didn't run—it kept being passed off from one editor to the next. After getting one noncommittal answer after another from her editors, Falzone at last heard from LaCorte, who was then the head of Falzone told colleagues that LaCorte said to her, "Good reporting, kiddo. But Rupert wants Donald Trump to win. So just let it go." LaCorte denies telling Falzone this, but one of Falzone's colleagues confirms having heard her account at the time."
  2. Trump ordered Gary Cohn to pressure the Justice Department to block the AT&T-Time Warner merger: "According to a well-informed source, Trump called Cohn into the Oval Office along with John Kelly, who had just become the chief of staff, and said in exasperation to Kelly, "I've been telling Cohn to get this lawsuit filed and nothing's happened! I've mentioned it fifty times. And nothing's happened. I want to make sure it's filed. I want that deal blocked!"... According to the source, as Cohn walked out of the meeting he told Kelly, "Don't you [expletive] dare call the Justice Department. We are not going to do business that way."

Comey calls on new attorney general to be transparent about Mueller's findings

In a Washington Post op-ed, former FBI Director James Comey says William Barr, President Trump's new attorney general, should be fully transparent when it comes to special counsel Robert Mueller's findings.

"Every American should want a Justice Department guided first and always by the public interest. Sometimes transparency is not a hard call," Comey writes.

One of the examples of transparency he describes that's likely to anger Democrats - his decision, in July 2016, to recommend against charging Hillary Clinton

2020 Vision: Merkley passes on White House run

In a video announcement this morning, Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., said he would be running for re-election in 2020 rather than running for the White House.

"I've never been afraid of a tough battle," Merkley said in an interview with NBC's Mike Memoli. "The question I've asked myself is, can I be more effective in making a difference on those being in the 2020 primary or by being in the Senate?"

Meanwhile, Jay Inslee announced raising more than $1 million since entering the 2020 Democratic race on Friday. To put his haul into perspective:

  • Bernie Sanders raised some $6 million in his first 24 hours.
  • Kamala Harris raked in $1.5 million in her first 24 hours.
  • Amy Klobuchar grabbed $1 million in her first 48 hours.
  • Inslee brought in $1 million-plus in his first 72 hours since launching his campaign.
  • Elizabeth Warren raised some $300,000 via her ActBlue account on her first day (but that's not a complete picture of her total fundraising).

On the trail today

Amy Klobuchar, in DC, has a conversation with Robert Reich on "America's Monopoly Problem"… Jay Inslee stumps in Iowa… And John Delaney is in New Hampshire.

Tweet of the day

Data Download: The number of the day is … 38 percent


That's the percentage of Americans in the recent NBC/WSJ poll who believe the country's two-party system is broken and think the country needs a third party - the highest percentage on this question dating back to 1995.

By contrast, 47 percent say the two-party system has real problems but can work with improvements, while another 11 percent say the two-party system works fairly well.

As we've said before, there is a real hunger out there for an independent bid for president. It's just that the one person who is likely to make such a bid - former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz - hasn't offered anything new.

The Lid: I am not a crook

Don't miss the pod yesterday, in which we looked at the similarities (and differences!) between how partisans viewed Richard Nixon and Donald Trump at key moments of their presidencies.

ICYMI: Dates set for new NC-9 election

Candidates now have new election dates in NC-9 — and the filing deadline is coming up fast. (Party primaries for May 14, general election on Sept. 10.)


The Senate is primed to vote against Trump's national emergency declaration.

New AG William Barr won't recuse himself from the Mueller probe.

Mike Memoli reports on the full list of those who have received document requests from the House Judiciary Committee — so far.

And Dems will vote on an anti-Semitism resolution in the wake of Ilhan Omar's latest remarks.

Other news today you shouldn't miss…


Trump agenda: Bolton makes his mark

The Washington Post looks at how John Bolton has made his mark at the NSC.

Ben Carson says he'll leave HUD after the president's first term.

Roger Stone's lawyers say he should be able to sell a book he wrote before his arrest.

Felix Sater has been sued by Mariah Carey's former manager, because of course that story is obviously destined to keep getting crazier.

Dem agenda: Suing Trump over abortion move

Democrats are planning to sue the Trump administration over its recent Title X move targeting abortion providers.


2020: On climate solutions and Iowa

The 2020 Democrats want to embrace climate solutions, but campaigning in Iowa may add a wrinkle.

Six of the potential Democratic presidential candidates have benefitted from donations from … Trump or his family.

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