U.S. House panel begins probe of possible Trump obstruction

WASHINGTON, March 3 (Reuters) - The head of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee said on Sunday the panel would seek documents from more than 60 people and entities as part of a probe into possible obstruction of justice and abuse of power by President Donald Trump.

Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler told ABC's "This Week" the panel wanted to get documents from the Department of Justice, the president's son Donald Trump Jr. and Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg, among others.

"We are going to initiate investigations into abuses of power, into corruption ... and into obstruction of justice," Nadler said. "It's our job to protect the rule of law."

"It’s very clear that the president obstructed justice," Nadler said. He said it was too soon to consider whether impeachment should be pursued, however.

"Before you impeach somebody, you have to persuade the American public that it ought to happen," he said.

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UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 08: Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., arrives for a House Judiciary Committee hearing in Rayburn Building titled 'Oversight of the U.S. Department of Justice,' where acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker was questioned about special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation on Friday, February 8, 2019. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Ranking member Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA), speaks during the testimony of Acting U.S. Attorney General Matthew Whitaker before the House Judiciary Committee on the special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on Friday, February 08, 2019. (Photo by Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Rep. Joe Neguse D-Colo., speaks with Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (vice chair), D-Pa., during a House Judiciary Committee debate to subpoena Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker as he appears before the House Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill, Friday, Feb. 8, 2019 in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
UNITED STATES - APRIL 12: Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., participates in a press conference with House Judiciary Committee Democrats to announce new legislation to protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation on Thursday, April 12, 2018. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 08: U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) speaks during a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill February 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. Following a subpoena fight between committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and the Justice Department, Acting U.S. Attorney General Matthew Whitaker was questioned about his oversight of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 08: Reps. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., and Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., conduct a House Judiciary Committee hearing in Rayburn Building titled 'Oversight of the U.S. Department of Justice,' where acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker was questioned about special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation on Friday, February 8, 2019. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 08: U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-TX) speaks during a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill February 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. Following a subpoena fight between committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and the Justice Department, Acting U.S. Attorney General Matthew Whitaker was questioned about his oversight of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., speaks during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on gun violence, at Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 08: House Judiciary Committee member Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) questions Acting U.S. Attorney General Matthew Whitaker during an oversight hearing in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill February 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. Following a subpoena fight between committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and the Justice Department, Whitaker was questioned about his oversight of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Rep. Louis Gohmert, R-Texas, asks a question during a joint hearing with testimony from Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz, during a joint House Committee on the Judiciary and House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing examining Horowitz's report of the FBI's Clinton email probe, on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, June 19, 2018 in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 08: U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-FL) speaks during a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill February 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. Following a subpoena fight between committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and the Justice Department, Acting U.S. Attorney General Matthew Whitaker was questioned about his oversight of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., chairman of the House subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations, makes a statement on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2015, as the House Judiciary Committee met to approve rare bipartisan legislation that would reduce prison time for some nonviolent drug offenders. The aim of the bipartisan bills is to reduce overcrowding in the nation's prisons, save taxpayer dollars and give some nonviolent offenders a second chance while keeping the most dangerous criminals in prison. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
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As evidence of obstruction, Nadler cited Trump's firing of former FBI Director James Comey, who at the time was leading an investigation into Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and possible collusion between Trump's campaign and Moscow.

That investigation was subsequently taken over by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is expected to deliver his findings to the U.S. attorney general within weeks.

Nadler also cited what he called Trump's attempts to intimidate witnesses in the investigation.

The White House, the Justice Department and the Trump Organization did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Nadler said the committee on Monday would release the list of people and organizations it would be requesting documents from. (Reporting by Tim Ahmann; Editing by Doina Chiacu and Sonya Hepinstall)

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