Feb 13, 2019

1. House Democrats plan vast Russia probe

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Mueller is just the beginning. House Democrats plan a vast probe of President Trump and Russia — with a heavy focus on money laundering — that will include multiple committees and dramatic public hearings, and could last into 2020.

The state of play: The aggressive plans were outlined yesterday by a Democratic member of Congress at a roundtable for Washington reporters. The member said Congress plans interviews with new witnesses, and may go back to earlier witnesses who "stonewalled" under the Republican majority.

Why it matters: The reporters, many of them steeped in the special counsel's investigation, came away realizing that House Dems don't plan to depend on Robert Mueller for the last word on interference in the 2016 election.

  • Instead, Dems will use their new subpoena power to produce a voluminous exposé of their own.

Here's the congressional blueprint, as outlined by the member:

  • At least three committees are already involved: The House Intelligence Committee is taking the lead, coordinating with House Financial Services on money-laundering questions and with House Foreign Affairs on Russia.
  • Democrats are considering ways to uncover what was said in a Trump private meeting with Putin, "whether that's subpoenaing the notes or subpoenaing the interpreter or other steps."

On Trump family finances, the member said the president is "not in a position to draw red lines."

  • "I am concerned that he may have drawn a red line that the Department of Justice may be observing."
  • "If we didn't look at his business, ... we wouldn’t know what we know now about his efforts to pursue what may have been the most lucrative deal of his life, the Trump Tower in Moscow — something the special counsel's office has said stood to earn the family hundreds of millions of dollars."
  • "Now, most of his stuff isn't building anymore: It's licensing, and it doesn't make that kind of money. So, this would have been huge."
  • "[T]he fact that the president says now: 'Well, it's not illegal and I might have lost the election. Why should I miss out, basically, on all that money?' He may very well take the same position now: 'I might not be re-elected, and so why shouldn't I ... still pursue it?"

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Coronavirus dashboard

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Biden rolls out new policies in effort to court Sanders supporters

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

The Biden campaign announced two new policies on Thursday on health care and student debt that are squarely aimed at appealing to supporters of Bernie Sanders, who ended his campaign for the Democratic nomination on Wednesday.

Why it matters: The policies don't go as far as Sanders' platform, but they signal that Biden is serious about incorporating elements of his former rival's agenda in an effort to help unify the Democratic Party and defeat President Trump in the general election.

Reports: Saudi Arabia and Russia reach major deal to cut oil production

Photo: Joe Klamar/AFP via Getty Images

OPEC+, led by mega-producers Saudi Arabia and Russia, reached a tentative agreement Thursday to impose large cuts in oil production as the coronavirus pandemic fuels an unprecedented collapse in demand, per Bloomberg and Reuters.

Why it matters: The revival of the OPEC+ collaboration patches up the early March rupture between the countries, which had pushed already depressed prices down much further by threatening to unleash even more new supplies into the saturated market.