Rep. Hakeem Jeffries Questions If Trump Is a Crook; Rep. Speier Invokes Jekyll and Hyde

By Susan Jones | March 1, 2017 | 12:09pm EST
Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) turns thumbs down on President Donald Trump as he addressed a joint session of Congress Tuesday night. (Screen grab from C-SPAN)

( - The morning after President Donald Trump's speech to the nation, at least two Democrats excoriated him on the House floor, bringing a reminder from the presiding chairman that Members should refrain from personally attacking the president.

Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), quoting President Richard Nixon, said: "The American people deserve to know whether or not the president is a crook." Although Nixon was talking about himself, Jeffries said "many people across the country are raising a similar question" about Trump, based on Russian interference in the U.S. election.

A short time later, Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), also speaking on the House floor, said Trump, in his speech, subjected the nation to a "barrage of third-grade soundbites, falsehoods and half truths -- just like always."

Speier -- who was seen on camera last night turning thumbs-down as Trump spoke -- read a list of things the president said that offended her, including Trump's "mockery" of a widow's grief.

Rep. Jeffries is among the Democrats treating an anonymously sourced Feb. 14 New York Times report as the basis for an independent investigation into an alleged Trump-Russia connection.

According to that New York Times report, "Phone records and intercepted calls show that members of Donald J. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election, according to four current and former American officials."

The report said the intercepts "alarmed American intelligence and law enforcement agencies" because the contacts happened "while Mr. Trump was speaking glowingly about the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin."

But the Times also reported that "officials interviewed in recent weeks" had seen "no evidence" that the Trump campaign was colluding with the Russians on the "hacking or other efforts to influence the election."

On Wednesday, Jeffries said:

We know that as early as Dec. 2015, at least four different cronies of Donald Trump were in regular communication with Russian intelligence agents at the same time these individuals were hacking into the DNC, the DCCC, and the Clinton campaign -- interfering with our democracy.

These individuals were Michael Flynn, who (became) Trump's national security adviser; Carter Page, who was his former foreign policy adviser; Paul Manafort, who was the chairman of the Trump campaign; Roger Stone, a long-time affiliate.

If they were having these conversations at that time, we know they probably weren't talking about Russian vodka. What were they talking about? The American people deserve to know.

Jeffries also accused Michael Flynn of having an "illegal conversation" with the Russian ambassador in December 2016, "where he discussed sanctions that were imposed on Russia because of the hacking." (Flynn's conversation with the Russian ambassador was one of many he had with foreign governments, part of his preparation for becoming national security adviser.)

Jeffries accused Trump of wanting to "make the Kremlin great again." He also complained about Trump refusing to release his tax returns: "What exactly is he hiding in these tax documents? Yet we still can't get an independent investigation."

Jeffries accused White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus of engaging in "potentially unlawful conversations with the FBI, perhaps trying to get them to obstruct justice in the public sphere in the midst of an ongoing investigation. (An FBI official initiated the conversation with Priebus, not the other way around.)

"All we're saying is, connect the dots,” Jeffries concluded. “This should not be a Democrat issue or a Republican issue. The American people deserve to know whether or not the president is a crook."

As Jeffries walked away from the podium, his time up, the presiding chair said, "Members are reminded to refrain from engaging in personalities (sic) toward the president."

Speier began her floor speech on Wednesday by noting that “the president is being lauded for a speech that stayed on message and was optimistic. Those accolades would be deserved if his actions bore any resemblance to his words.”

After criticizing some of what he’s said and done, Speier ended this way:

This speech demonstrates that the president can read from a teleprompter, that he so derided during his campaign. Last night he showed a calm and civilized face to the nation. Was this a one-night stand or a changed man who recognizes the ominous responsibilities of being the president of the United States?

We’ve seen the president’s Mr. Hyde face in his tweets and his unhinged press conference. I think the question before us now is, will a single night of soothing platitudes be sufficient?

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was something we read about. What we do know is that Dr. Jekyll could not suppress his dark side. The question is, can the president?”

Again, the presiding chairman admonished the departing lawmaker: “Members are reminded to refrain from engaging in personalities (sic) toward the president."

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