WASHINGTON — As Donald Trump labeled himself the worst-treated president in U.S. history, congressional Republicans faced increasing pressure Wednesday to authorize an independent probe into a growing number of controversies involving the White House.
Republicans in the House and Senate are reeling from the constant bombardment of Trump-related actions and statements that have also spooked investors and resulted in a stock market plunge. The growing political drama sent the markets to their biggest one-day decline since September, with the Dow Jones industial average falling 372 points, or 1.8 percent, on Wednesday.
Democrats are pressing for an independent commission to review the firing of FBI Director James Comey, an FBI probe into collusion between Russians and former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who served in the Trump campaign, and Trump’s sharing of reported Israeli intelligence with Russia.
Trump denies any wrongdoing in those incidents, and he used a speech to U.S. Coast Guard cadets in Connecticut on Wednesday to cast himself as a victim of an over-zealous media and Congress.
“No politician in history, and I say this with great surety, has been treated worse or more unfairly,” Trump said.
“Adversity makes you stronger,” Trump said. “Don’t give in. Don’t back down.”
Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, Democrats urged Republicans to authorize funds to staff an independent commission to probe the growing number of allegations involving Trump, including a reported memo from Comey that Trump tried to quell an FBI investigation into Flynn earlier this year.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said Congress continues to learn disturbing facts about the president “not just every day, but ladies and gentlemen, every hour.”
“Enough is enough,” said Rep. Ruben Kihuen, D-Nev., during a news conference with Cummings and other Democratic members on key committees conducting investigations.
No rush to judgment
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, chairman of the House oversight panel, has asked the FBI to hand over documents relating to Comey’s assertion about White House involvement in the probe into Flynn. Chaffetz has threatened to use his subpoena “pen” to get the materials.
“The problem is, we have been waiting for months for the chairman to pick up his subpoena pen,” Cummings said. “The Republicans are not doing their job in holding the Republican president accountable.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said there were those who would like to do harm to the president and said there would be no rush to judgment.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said he would like to see a little “less drama” out of the White House, but told reporters he had not lost confidence in the president.
Still, the Senate Intelligence Committee has asked Comey to appear before the panel to discuss his recent firing and events that led up to that decision by the president, which included a White House dinner and other conversations.
Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C., also asked acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe to reappear before the panel. McCabe told the Senate last week that there was no instance of White House interference into the FBI probe of Flynn, who resigned after information surfaced that he lied to administration officials about his ties to Russian officials.
Senate and House intelligence committees are also investigating alleged Russian interference into the 2016 presidential election, and possible collusion between the foreign government and Trump campaign officials.
Both Democrats and Republicans were taken aback this week when it was revealed that, a day after firing Comey, Trump shared information with Russian officials at the White House that was reportedly about a terrorist plot to use laptops in attacks on aircraft.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, called it deeply disturbing.
In the House, Rep. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., circulated a letter signed by more than 40 Democratic lawmakers and sent to the White House criticizing the president for sharing intelligence, reportedly provided by Israel, with Russia about the terrorist plot.
Trump and White House aides have denied that the president acted improperly in disclosing the intelligence to the Russians.
The congressional letter says the president’s action in sharing the information could endanger third-nation intelligence gathering and hamper future collection and access to vital information.
“Regardless of whether or not the State of Israel publicly confirms these reports, the underlying issue at hand is that the reckless disclosure has the potential to undermine our intelligence relations with all of our allies,” said the letter from Rosen, a member of the House Armed Services Committee.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., introduced a discharge petition that would force Republicans to authorize the independent commission. Nevada Democrats Kihuen, Rosen and Rep. Dina Titus all signed it.
It takes 218 votes to bring the petition to the floor. Only two Republican lawmakers have signed the petition so far.
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said an independent commission would work in conjunction with congressional probes into the controversies.
And he noted that nothing will happen quickly.
“This is going to take time,” Schiff told a news conference.
Contact Gary Martin at 202-662-7390 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @garymartindc on Twitter.