Today, Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), senior Member of the House Judiciary Committee, introduced a Resolution of Inquiry directing the Department of Justice to provide the House of Representatives with any and all information relevant to an inquiry into President Trump and his associates’ conflicts of interest, ethical violations—including the Emoluments Clause—and Russia ties. If the House Judiciary Committee does not schedule the resolution for a Markup within 14 legislative days, it becomes a privileged resolution and can be brought to the floor in front of the full House for a vote.
“Democrats have repeatedly asked the Majority, in letters to Chairman Goodlatte and Speaker Ryan, to investigate these ongoing conflicts of interest, and those requests have been ignored,” said Congressman Nadler. “Donald Trump has refused to step away from his business interests in any meaningful way, his foreign entanglements are likely unconstitutional, he has repeatedly refused to disclose his financial assets, and he is clouded by the specter of Russian intervention in the election and his Administration. Republicans have shown zero willingness to follow through on their duty to conduct oversight, and they must be held accountable if they are truly willing to abdicate this constitutional obligation and must be made to answer to the American people for that failure. We must know what the Department has learned about the Administration’s connections to the Russian government. We must review the Department’s legal analysis—if there is any—of the President’s feeble attempt to remedy his wide-ranging ethics problems. We must conduct oversight of the least transparent Administration in modern history. This resolution represents a start.”
Congressman Nadler’s Resolution of Inquiry follows two formal requests sent to House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte—the first on November 30, 2016 and the second on January 24, 2017—for hearings into federal conflict-of-interest and ethical provisions that may apply to the President and an investigation of the legal structure and practices of the “trust” being managed by Donald Trump’s sons, as well as a letter sent to Speaker Paul Ryan on January 12, 2017 asking for any information needed to evaluate Donald Trump’s financial entanglements for conflicts of interest and constitutional violations, along with detailing any uncovered ties between Russia and the President, his advisors, or his businesses.
The full text of the Resolution of Inquiry can be found here.
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. Once introduced, the Committee must schedule a Markup in that set time, which means there has to be debate and the Committee must vote on the Resolution. The Committee can report the Resolution “unfavorably” after Markup to prevent it from going to the floor, otherwise it can be raised for a vote before the full House of Representatives.