- The Washington Times - Monday, September 2, 2019

House Democrats reportedly plan to expand their impeachment probe into Ken Starr territory — investigating sexual-misconduct charges against President Trump for the seeds of possible criminal actions.

Citing “people familiar with the plans who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal discussions,” the Washington Post reported Monday evening that Congressional investigators will look into whether Mr. Trump played a role in paying off two women in 2016 for their silence about the purported affairs.

The House Judiciary Committee hearings about hush money made to Playboy model Karen McDougal and porn star Stormy Daniels could come in October, the Post reported. The Judiciary panel will call witnesses as part of its impeachment inquiry.

Democrats say they think Mr. Trump could be named as a co-conspirator in a case that had led to guilty pleas by former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, though federal prosecutors declined to take the case further.

Cohen testified under oath that Mr. Trump had directed the payments he had made to the two women, which prosecutors said constituted an illegal campaign-finance contribution. Mr. Trump and his aides have given wildly varying statements about whether he knew about or even directed the payments.

Congressional Democrats maintain that Mr. Trump would have been charged in that case also had it not been for longstanding Justice Department policy that a sitting president cannot be indicted.

This, they maintain, puts the ball in their court.

“The fingerprints are all over this one — it’s not like a big mystery,” Rep. Jamie Raskin, Maryland Democrat and a panel member, told the Post. “As with the evidence of presidential obstruction of justice, the conclusion seems inescapable: that [Mr. Trump] would have been tried had he been anybody else. And now it’s left to Congress again to figure out what to do with the lawbreaking and apparent impunity of the president.”

Democrats also plan to investigate, the Post reported, whether Mr. Trump tried to obstruct justice in the Cohen case, as they claim he did former special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe.

• Victor Morton can be reached at vmorton@washingtontimes.com.

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