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Judiciary Republicans Hijack Markup on Sessions’ Recusal and Comey Firing Resolution to Focus on Clinton Emails

Republicans Block Attempt at Meaningful Oversight with Far-Right Conspiracy Theories

Washington, DC, July 26, 2017

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Today, the House Judiciary Committee was scheduled to consider H. Res. 446, a resolution of inquiry introduced by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI).  The resolution sought information from the White House and the Department of Justice related to the recusal of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the removal of former FBI Director James Comey, and any recordings the White House may have made of conversations between Director Comey and President Trump.

Rather than debate the underlying resolution, Judiciary Republicans adopted an amendment offered by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL)  - that completely struck the content of the bill and substituted a request for information on a wide range of right-wing conspiracy theories about Cheryl Mills and Hillary Clinton.

Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr., issued the following statement:

“The Majority has shown itself to be in complete lockstep with President Trump.  Rather than talk about a crisis at the Department of Justice, our colleagues would rather re-litigate the 2016 election and question the credibility of a long list of public servants who no longer work for the government.

“There is simply no excuse for our Committee’s failure to hold a single oversight hearing on these matters.  Their attempt to hide behind stale conspiracy theories is both tone deaf and counterproductive.  It makes the Majority complicit in the actions of President Trump and his associates.

“I am disappointed that the Republicans denied us an opportunity to debate our resolution, but we will not be deterred.  Whether the crisis comes to the Committee or the Committee comes to the crisis, we will conduct oversight of the Trump Administration.”

BACKGROUND:  A resolution of inquiry is a legislative tool that has privileged parliamentary status, meaning it can be brought to the floor if the relevant committee hasn’t reported it within 14 legislative days, even if the Majority leadership has not scheduled it for a vote.

House Judiciary Committee Democrats have long been calling for House Judiciary Republicans to conduct oversight of the Trump Administration. Democrats have written to Chairman Goodlatte four times to request hearings on Russian interference with the 2016 election, potential collusion with Russia, the firing of James Comey and Attorney General Sessions’ recusal.  Democrats have also sent several letters to Speaker Paul Ryan, the Department of Justice and the White House requesting related information. 

Despite Judiciary Republicans’ attempts to block Democratic efforts, resolutions of inquiry should be the proper next step in the Committee’s oversight of the Trump Administration.  House Judiciary Republicans have so far blocked four Democratic resolutions from reaching the House floor: Rep. Jerrold Nadler’s (D-NY) resolution of inquiry; Reps. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and Ted Lieu’s (D-CA) resolution of inquiry; and Rep. Mike Quigley’s (D-IL) resolution of inquiry.