House Democrats Target Ivanka Trump (but Through a Side Door)

WASHINGTON — Rhona Graff, President Trump’s longtime executive assistant, was asked for documents related to foreign governments providing gifts or money to Ivanka Trump or her businesses.

Anatoli Samochornov, the Russian translator who sat in on a meeting between Trump campaign officials and Russian lobbyists, was asked to hand over handwritten notes showing any capital investment from Russian entities to Ms. Trump or her businesses.

And Jeff Sessions, the former attorney general, was asked for any documents related to loans or capital investments from Russians directed to Ms. Trump.

The president’s eldest daughter and top White House adviser was notably absent from a blitz of document requests that the House Judiciary Committee sent earlier this month to 81 individuals and organizations linked to the president. House Democrats have been cautious about targeting Ms. Trump and the other Trump children as they investigate the president, worried about triggering a backlash.

But a close read of the document requests suggests they aren’t exactly tiptoeing around the first daughter, either.

Of the 81 document requests sent, 52 individuals and organizations were asked to turn over documents related to Ms. Trump or her business interests.

White House officials are viewing the document requests as an attempt by the House Judiciary Committee to set the stage for potentially impeaching the president. But the inquiries related to Ms. Trump follow a side track: They ask for documents related to any financial benefit that Ms. Trump or her businesses reaped from foreign and domestic governments after the 2016 election. And they provide a hint of how Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, may be planning to look into potential financial conflicts of interest from Ms. Trump.

“She’d be in violation of the Constitution if she was getting any business deals from foreign governments,” said Richard W. Painter, who served as chief ethics lawyer under President George W. Bush. Mr. Painter was referring to the emoluments clause of the Constitution, which prohibits government officials from accepting payments or gifts from foreign governments.

“They’re also going after other payments that aren’t emoluments clause violations that we ought to know about that could be creating financial conflicts of interest for her,” Mr. Painter said. “The idea here is to get an awful lot of information we would have had if there had been more detailed disclosures about the entities the Trump family controls.”

A spokesman for the House Judiciary Committee declined to comment on the committee’s interest in Ms. Trump. But Mr. Nadler has said that the 81 requests were only the first tranche and that requests to others, including Ms. Trump, could “quite conceivably” follow.

The characters working behind the scenes on the document requests also provide a hint of what the Judiciary Committee is looking for. In February, House Democrats retained Norman L. Eisen, a litigator and prominent Trump critic, to begin its inquiries into the president. Mr. Eisen, who played a large role in overseeing the document requests, has also been vocal about potential emoluments clause violations from the president and his family. In December 2016, for instance, he was an author of a report for the Brookings Institution, “The Emoluments Clause: Its text, meaning, and application to Donald J. Trump.”

Ms. Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, never completely divested from their companies even after taking top White House positions. Their income in 2017, from various investments they remained involved in through vehicles and trusts, was $82 million to $222 million, according to their ethics disclosures. In 2017, Ms. Trump earned more than $5 million from her namesake fashion brand, according to financial disclosures.

In July 2018, Ms. Trump shut down her fashion brand, amid concerns that the family was profiting from the presidency. But she has continued to seek trademarks in China to avoid competitors from profiting off her name, according to a spokeswoman.

House Democrats appear to be looking to see if she leveraged her role in government to profit for herself.

Among those asked to produce documents that could show foreign-government involvement with Ms. Trump are George Nader, the Lebanese-American businessman who is cooperating with the special counsel’s inquiry; Erik Prince, the founder of the security contractor formerly known as Blackwater; Matthew Calamari, the former Trump bodyguard turned businessman; and Hope Hicks, a former White House communications director.

Others were Corey Lewandowski, the former Trump campaign manager; Michael T. Flynn, the former national security adviser, and Allen Weisselberg, the chief financial officer of the Trump Organization.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, did not respond to a request for comment.

Abbe Lowell, a lawyer for Mr. Kushner, declined to comment.

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