The are four congressional investigations into Russian meddling in the US election last year
"There's all kinds of money trails here," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told CNN
The Senate’s top Democrat, Chuck Schumer, cautioned President Donald Trump from trying to interfere in Congress’ investigations of Russian meddling into the US election last year, saying it would be “possibly criminal,” and encouraged investigators to follow the “money trail.”
“It’s a serious investigation. They ought to follow every lead. If the White House tried to interfere, that obviously would be very, very serious and possibly criminal,” the New York Democrat told CNN’s Manu Raju in a wide-ranging interview Friday. “I hope they don’t.”
Schumer also said that he would like to hear Attorney General Jeff Sessions testify before Senate Russia investigators, and also highlighted lead Democrat on the investigation, Virginia Sen. Mark Warner.
“Well, I have some faith in Mark Warner, and so far, Mark has done things, you know, gotten the things we’ve needed. It’s just taken a very long time,” Schumer said Friday.
Schumer also told congressional investigators to not just follow the facts of the case, but also “look for the money.”
“There’s all kinds of money trails here,” Schumer said, adding, “I think this is going to lead to serious, serious stuff.
A White House official dismissed Schumer’s comments Friday, saying that he had nothing to show for close to nine months of investigations.
“Investigators have been looking into this since last July and there’s no evidence of collusion that’s come to light, and so it is telling that Schumer had nothing new of substance to add,” the official said.
Schumer put most of the blame for the speed of the investigation, however, on Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican.
“I think Mark Warner’s doing an excellent job,” Schumer said. “I think that Senator Burr has moved too slowly. He’s eventually done the right thing, but he has to be prodded every step of the way, and I don’t think that’s good.”
Schumer laced into Trump, one day ahead of Trump’s 100th Day in office – a traditional checkpoint on the performance of each new president.
Trump marveled recently at the daunting task of being president, saying in an interview with Reuters, “I loved my previous life. I had so many things going … This is more work than in my previous life. I thought it would be easier.”
Schumer responded, “Mr. President, you are in the NFL. This is the big leagues. And of course it’s a hard job, it’s probably the hardest job in the world.”
The two New Yorkers have struck up an awkward dance since the election, talking regularly – even while bashing each other in public. Schumer said their talks have increased recently, but he didn’t think his private advice was registering with the president.
As an example, he noted Trump’s apparent about-face on dealing trade and China may be geared toward pressuring North Korea, but is probably having the opposite effect.
“The only way to really stop North Korea from doing what it’s doing short of war is to get China to fully cooperate, because they control all the trade. They control the entire economy, really, of North Korea. My view is to get the Chinese to do something real, you have to be tough with them on trade – trade is their mother’s milk,” Schumer said. “So, when the president’s sort of nice to them and says he’s backing off without anything, they’re not going to help him on North Korea, they’re not going to help us on trade.”
But Trump’s China strategy is already yielding dividends, a White House official said Friday.
“The President has been extremely successful engaging with the Chinese to get them to use their leverage against North Korea like never before. This has been a major diplomatic breakthrough so it seems Mr. Schumer either has no idea what he is talking about or is intent on rooting against America,” the official said.
Schumer also said that Trump – and congressional Republicans – shouldn’t count on support from any Democrats on health care. Asked if health care could pass the Senate, Schumer flatly said “No.”
But Schumer rejected the idea that Democrats have now become the “Party of No” – a moniker Democrats used to tag Republicans when they were fighting former President Barack Obama – even as they continue to oppose Trump.
“Well, let’s see, on health care, all he needed – they’re in charge – all they needed was Republican votes to pass it in the House. They were unable to do it,” Schumer said, just a short while after House Republicans delayed their latest effort to revive the health care bill.
A White House official replied that Democrats were making a mistake if they think the onus will be on Trump for health care.
“ObamaCare is either going to be repealed or collapse under its own weight. When this failed law flatlines it’s going to be Schumer and his colleagues who will own it,” the official said.