House Dems to probe Trump role in hush payments

BROADCAST AND DIGITAL RESTRICTIONS~ **BROADCASTERS: NO USE. DIGITAL: NO USE AUSTRALIA BROADCASTERS. NO USE ABC, CNN, FOX, UNIVISION, TELEMUNDO, BBC AMERICA, NBC. VIDEO MUST BE USED IN ITS ENTIRETY. EXISTING GRAPHICS MAY BE OVERWRITTEN BY CLIENT'S OWN GRAPHICS BUT NO FURTHER EDITS ARE PERMITTED, INCLUDING FOR LENGTH** House Democrats are expanding their inquiries into President Trump to include his alleged role in hush-money payments made during the 2016 campaign to women who say they had affairs with him. According to the Washington Post, the House Judiciary Committee plans to hold hearings and call witnesses on the possible campaign violations as soon as October. Last year Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, admitted to making the payments to adult-film star Stormy Daniels and ex-Playboy model Karen McDougal, saying he was directed to do so by Trump with court papers referring to Trump as Individual - 1. Trump has denied the affairs and claims he never told Cohen to do anything illegal. Cohen pleaded guilty to charges the payoffs amounted to illegal campaign contributions and is serving 3-years in prison. Democrats now tell the Post they believe there's enough evidence to name Trump as a co-conspirator. One possible 'star' witness could be David Pecker, the chairman and CEO of American Media Inc, which publishes the National Enquirer tabloid newspaper. AMI made a $150,000 payment to McDougal "in concert" with Trump's presidential campaign, and later cut a deal with federal prosecutors to avoid prosecution. The new inquiry by the Democrats comes as they pursue five instances of potential obstruction of justice by Trump, detailed in former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on the Russia probe. The push to hold Trump accountable has been messy, and this latest try is widely viewed as an effort by Democrats to break an impasse over impeachment. The majority of House Democrats&including some powerful leaders have already called for an official impeachment inquiry to begin. But Speaker Nancy Pelosi has repeatedly cautioned it would be a risky political move without solid public support that has yet to materialize.