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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaks to House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff ahead of the State of the Union. Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Congressional Democrats' war with President Trump is about to get personal.

What's happening: House Democrats, led by Chairman Adam Schiff's House Intelligence Committee, are about to begin investigating Trump's family business. The Democrats are hiring staff with deep expertise at tracing cash flowing through complicated property transactions. 

  • Why it matters: Democrats are marching across the red line Trump drew for Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Rep. Eric Swalwell of California, a senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, laid down the marker to Axios last night after the committee deliberated behind closed doors earlier in the day.

  • "We are going to take an MRI to any Russian financing that the Trump Organization and the president may have had," Swalwell said.
  • "But we are not going to be so naive to assume that he's faithful to the Russians. There may have been other countries who have tried to financially influence him."

Between the lines: Of particular interest to the committee is an extraordinary series of cash purchases Trump made in the decade before his presidential campaign.

  • The Washington Post revealed, in May: "Trump’s company spent more than $400 million in cash on new properties — including 14 transactions paid for in full, without borrowing from banks — during a buying binge that defied real estate industry practices and Trump’s own history as the self-described 'King of Debt.'"
  • Eric Trump told the Post, then, that the Trump Organization made the purchases like that because Trump "had incredible cash flow and built incredible wealth ... He didn’t need to think about borrowing for every transaction. We invested in ourselves."
  • The Post offered no evidence of money laundering, but Democrats plan to investigate where the money came from to make these purchases.

Swalwell told Axios: "Without knowing whether Mueller is investigating money laundering through the Trump Organization, we do have the ability to look at whether that has occurred or is ongoing, and we are going to fulfill that responsibility."

Go deeper ... Democratic hit list: At least 85 Trump investigation targets

Go deeper

Collins helps contractor before pro-Susan PAC gets donation

Sen. Susan Collins during her reelection campaign. Photo: Scott Eisen/Getty Images

A PAC backing Sen. Susan Collins in her high-stakes reelection campaign received $150,000 from an entity linked to the wife of a defense contractor whose firm Collins helped land a federal contract, new public records show.

Why it matters: The executive, Martin Kao of Honolulu, leaned heavily on his political connections to boost his business, federal prosecutors say in an ongoing criminal case against him. The donation linked to Kao was veiled until last week.

How cutting GOP corporate cash could backfire

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Companies pulling back on political donations, particularly to members of Congress who voted against certifying President Biden's election win, could inadvertently push Republicans to embrace their party's rightward fringe.

Why it matters: Scores of corporate PACs have paused, scaled back or entirely abandoned their political giving programs. While designed to distance those companies from events that coincided with this month's deadly siege on the U.S. Capitol, research suggests the moves could actually empower the far-right.

6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Kaine, Collins pitch Senate colleagues on censuring Trump

Sen. Tim Kaine speaks with Sen. Susan Collins. Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP via Getty Images

Sens. Tim Kaine and Susan Collins are privately pitching their colleagues on a bipartisan resolution censuring former President Trump, three sources familiar with the discussions tell Axios.

Why it matters: Senators are looking for a way to condemn Trump on the record as it becomes increasingly unlikely Democrats will obtain the 17 Republican votes needed to gain a conviction in his second impeachment.