CNBC’s John Harwood sat down with Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., who is the new chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee. They discussed the joint investigation into Deutsche Bank and money laundering, and how it might connect to the Trump administration.
John Harwood: What is your objective in the joint investigation that you plan with Congressman Schiff of Deutsche Bank?
Maxine Waters: We know that Deutsche Bank is one of the biggest money laundering banks in the country, or in the world perhaps. And we know that this is the only bank that will lend money to the president of the United States because of his past practices. He won’t show his tax returns and we have a certain information that leads us to believe that there may have been some money laundering activity that might have been connected with Mr. Manafort, with some people in his family.
John Harwood: Do you believe that money laundering has been a significant part of President Trump’s business?
Maxine Waters: I know that there are a lot of rumors. I think we need to learn more about the finances of the president of the United States, and he’s hiding that information from us. He’s not disclosing that information. And I think we need to delve deeper into that and find out what is going on and whether or not money laundering has been involved and whether or not there are connections with the oligarchs of Russia.
John Harwood: Do you believe, based on what you know now, that the president is corrupt?
Maxine Waters: I believe that this is a problematic president who has proven that he has taken advantage of others in the past. I know that he was fined and I do know that the attorney general of New York made him reimburse at least $25 million. We know that he has had bankruptcies. We know that there are a lot of stories he hasn’t paid contractors, he hasn’t paid subcontractors. We know a lot about the history of this president and it doesn’t look good. … So, we think that in addition to what Mr. Mueller is doing and now what we are able to do with our subpoena power, we’ll find out more and we’ll be able to answer that question directly.
John Harwood: Now, do you think that the fact that you’ve taken some criticism about conflicts of interest — you were on a watchdog group’s list of most corrupt members of Congress — does that undercut your ability to pursue these issues?
Maxine Waters: No, absolutely not. First of all, all of the questions were answered, I was totally exonerated and found not to have done anything wrong. And the group that was involved in that was not an official group. It was simply a nonprofit operation that decided that it was going to take on the responsibility of choosing members that they didn’t necessarily like. But whatever they tried to do to me didn’t work because it was proven that I had done nothing wrong.
John Harwood: You are one of the earliest members of Congress to call for the impeachment of the president.
Maxine Waters: Yes.
John Harwood: Speaker Pelosi is more cautious. But is it plain to you right now that that’s where this is headed?
Maxine Waters: Absolutely.
John Harwood: So do you believe the House will vote to impeach the president even if it is clear that Republicans will not join with that effort in the Senate?
Maxine Waters: No, I don’t know that. I don’t know that an impeachment resolution will ever be taken up. I hope so. I believe it should be, but I don’t know that.
John Harwood: You’re not predicting that?
Maxine Waters: No, I’m not predicting that. I don’t know that that will happen, you’re right. Democrats have been very cautious, everybody’s waiting on our special counsel, Mr. Mueller, to give them permission to go for it. I’m not waiting (for) permission to say what I really feel and understand about this president and how he has defined himself before our very eyes.
This story was updated with an extended exchange on the issue of impeachment.