House Judiciary GOP Skip Out on Trump/Russia Resolution Debate; Vote to Kill Two Dem Requests for Information from WH & DOJ
Majority Once Again, Refuses Dem Attempts to Conduct Basic Oversight
Washington, DC, March 29, 2017
Tags: Government Oversight
Today, House Judiciary Committee Republicans voted to kill H. Res. 184, a resolution of inquiry introduced by Reps. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and Ted Lieu (D-CA), that would have required the White House and Department of Justice to release information about contacts between Russian officials and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, among other Trump Administration figures. Republicans on the committee also voted down H. Res. 203, introduced by Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL), that would have required the White House and Justice Department to provide information, if any, on Trump’s unsubstantiated allegation that President Obama “wiretapped” him.
House Judiciary Republicans Appear Uninterested in Oversight: During the markup, Republicans refused to engage in debate on the resolutions. The Majority’s side of the room was largely empty. Chairman Goodlatte repeatedly referred to the resolutions as a “waste of the committee’s time.” Both resolutions failed on party line votes.
House Judiciary Republicans Reject Amendment to get Information on Nunes’ Visit to the White House: During the markup, Vice Ranking Member Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) offered an amendment to H. Res. 203 to request information related to Chairman Devin Nunes’ secretive visit to the White House. On March 23, 2017, Chairman Devin Nunes of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence told reporters that, “on numerous occasions, the intelligence community incidentally collected information about U.S. citizens involved in the Trump transition.” Chairman Nunes then traveled back to the White House to share his findings with President Donald Trump. He still has not shared those findings with his colleagues on the Committee. Republicans voted down this amendment on a party line vote.
House Judiciary Republicans Limit Debate on Trump’s Lies, Nunes’ Behavior, and Sessions’ False Testimony: Several times during the markup, Chairman Goodlatte threatened to “take down” the statements of Members attempting to describe the factual record—in effect, forcing them to withdraw their words from the record or lose their speaking privileges for the day. House Rules prohibit impugning the character or motives of the President—but it is true, as Ranking Members Conyers stated, that “President Trump has a long and colorful history of saying things that are simply untrue.”
House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), House Judiciary Committee Members Reps. Hakeem Jeffries and Ted Lieu, and House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Member Rep. Mike Quigley, today released the following statement after the markup:
“Once again, Republicans have proven that they’d rather become complicit with scandals than engage in proper oversight of the Trump Administration. Today, Republicans on the Judiciary Committee took their second and third votes to block Democratic efforts to obtain basic information about interactions between Trump’s inner circle and Putin’s Russia. Republicans can no longer sit idly by and pretend that none of these matters of vital national security importance are real. The American people expect more and the future of our democracy requires it.”
House Judiciary Committee Democrats have long been calling for House Judiciary Republicans to provide proper oversight over Trump and his Administration. On March 10th, every Democratic member of the Committee called on Chairman Goodlatte to “get moving on Trump oversight.”
Despite Judiciary Republicans’ attempts to block Democratic efforts, these resolutions of inquiry should be the proper next step in the Committee’s oversight of the Trump Administration. They follow two letters to Chairman Bob Goodlatte—both signed by every Democratic member of the Committee—requesting hearings about federal conflict-of-interest and ethics provisions that may apply to the President. Democrats have also sent several letters to Speaker Paul Ryan, the Department of Justice and the White House requesting this and related information concerning Trump’s ties to Russia.
Just a few weeks ago, House Judiciary Republicans blocked Rep. Jerrold Nadler’s (D-NY) resolution of inquiry from reaching the House floor. The Nadler resolution would have provided Congress with information relevant to President Trump’s conflicts of interest, his potential violations of the Foreign Emoluments Clause, and ties between his advisors and the Russian regime. During that markup, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Chairman Goodlatte (R-VA) indicated that the Nadler resolution was unnecessary because the Majority was drafting a bipartisan letter to Attorney General Sessions. To date, no such letter has been sent.