WASHINGTON — The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee delivered a flurry of document demands to the executive branch and the broader Trump world on Monday that detailed the breadth of the Democrats’ investigation into possible obstruction of justice, corruption and abuse of power by President Trump and his administration.
In the two months since they took control of the House, Democrats have begun probing members of the president’s cabinet, his businesses, his campaign, his inaugural committee and his ties to key foreign powers, including Russia and its attempts to disrupt the 2016 presidential election. But Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, the Judiciary Committee chairman, made clear on Monday that the new majority intends to train its attention on actions at the heart of Mr. Trump’s norm-bending presidency — actions that could conceivably form the basis of a future impeachment proceeding.
The letters from Mr. Nadler, dated March 4, went to 81 agencies, individuals and other entities tied to the president, including the Trump Organization, the Trump campaign, the Trump Foundation, the presidential inaugural committee, the White House, the Justice Department, the F.B.I. and dozens of the president’s closest aides who counseled him as he launched attacks against federal investigations into him and his associates, the press, and the federal judiciary. The committee will also investigate accusations of corruption, including possible violations of campaign finance law, the Constitution’s ban on foreign emoluments and the use of office for personal gain.
In a statement released Monday, Mr. Nadler said that it was imperative to “begin building the public record” of what he has contended are Mr. Trump’s abuses. He acknowledged that his work could replicate that of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, who is also studying whether Mr. Trump obstructed justice, as well as federal prosecutors in New York.
But those are criminal cases, and aides to the committee noted that Congress has different evidentiary standards than the Justice Department when it comes to potential wrongdoing.
“We will act quickly to gather this information, assess the evidence, and follow the facts where they lead with full transparency with the American people,” Mr. Nadler said in his statement. “This is a critical time for our nation, and we have a responsibility to investigate these matters and hold hearings for the public to have all the facts. That is exactly what we intend to do.”
Mr. Nadler did not mention the word impeachment in any of Monday’s documents, but its specter hangs heavily over Democratic leaders.
In an interview with The New York Times last week, Mr. Nadler said that he believed Mr. Trump had committed crimes while in office and had threatened basic constitutional norms, but he added that he would need to see an overwhelming, bipartisan case against the president before pursuing a step as disruptive as impeachment. He said he did not yet see such a case.
Monday’s requests could build that case. Twice in the past half century, the House Judiciary Committee has drawn up impeachment articles based, in part, on the same themes that Mr. Nadler laid out: obstruction of justice and abuse of power.
House Democrats sent more than 80 letters Monday demanding documents from family members, business associates, political confidants and others with ties to President Trump, launching a sprawling probe into whether he and his administration have engaged in obstruction of justice, corruption and abuse of power.
The farthest-reaching request since Democrats took control of the House underscored lawmakers’ determination to hold Trump and those around him accountable for an array of controversies that have dogged the president during his first two years in office — and perhaps lay the grounds for impeachment.
Those receiving letters from the House Judiciary Committee include the president’s two eldest sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump; his son-in-law Jared Kushner; his former personal secretary Rhona Graff; Allen Weisselberg, the chief financial officer of the Trump Organization; and former top White House aides Hope Hicks, Sean Spicer and Stephen K. Bannon.
Other demands for documents are directed to institutions including the White House, Justice Department, Trump campaign, Trump transition team and Trump Organization.
Recipients have two weeks to comply with the requests. Should they fail to do so, the panel will subpoena the documents, Judiciary staff told reporters on a call Monday morning.
The demands, made by Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), cover communications between former White House counsel Donald McGahn and the president relating to Trump’s fired national security adviser, Michel Flynn, as well as Flynn’s statements to the FBI about contacts with former Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
“We will act quickly to gather this information, assess the evidence, and follow the facts where they lead with full transparency with the American people,” Nadler said in a statement. “This is a critical time for our nation, and we have a responsibility to investigate these matters and hold hearings for the public to have all the facts. That is exactly what we intend to do.”
In a statement Monday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders acknowledged receipt of Nadler’s letter to the White House and said officials “will review it and respond at the appropriate time.” She did not comment further.
Nadler is also seeking to learn about communications regarding Trump’s firing of former FBI director James B. Comey, as well as what occurred at a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower. That meeting included Trump Jr., Kushner, Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, who had “dirt” to offer about Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, according to an email made public.
Nadler has also asked American Media Inc., and its CEO, David Pecker, a longtime Trump ally, about the hush payments or “any payment” made by former Trump personal lawyer Michael Cohen to assist Trump during the campaign.
The documents requested by Nadler are a first step in the committee’s effort to explore possible obstruction of justice by the president into special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether Trump or anyone close to him coordinated with the Russians during the campaign.
Aides said the panel is exploring two other broad issues, public corruption and abuse of power.
The probe of public corruption includes potential violations of the emoluments clause of the Constitution, which prohibits presidents from accepting gifts from foreign states; and possible campaign finance violations. Potential abuses of power include attacks on the press and judiciary and use of presidential pardon power, Judiciary aides said.
Nadler’s request is significant not only because of the expansive amount of material he is seeking but because his committee has jurisdiction over impeachment. Any hearings exploring whether Trump committed “high crimes and misdemeanors” would take place before Nadler’s panel.