Washington, D.C. – Today, House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) delivered the following opening remarks during a markup of a resolution toauthorize subpoenas for documents and testimony from current and former Administration officials relating to the Trump Administration’s "zero tolerance" policy and other family separation policies and practices; detention of children and families; and discussions about or offers of presidential pardons to Department of Homeland Security officials or employees. The resolution will also authorize subpoenas to twelve individuals as part of the House Judiciary Committee investigation into obstruction of justice, public corruption, and other abuses.
Below are Chairman Nadler's full remarks, as prepared:
"Today, the Judiciary Committee will take additional important steps toward greater oversight of the Trump Administration in two areas: immigration and alleged obstruction of justice.
"First, immigration. Over the past several months we have held hearings and sent letters to the agencies of jurisdiction regarding a series of catastrophic and inhumane immigration policies. Many questions remain and it is past time that we hold this Administration accountable.
"In January, as one of my first acts as Chairman, I sentletters to then-Department of Homeland Security (DHS)Secretary Nielsen, then-Acting Attorney General Whitaker, and current Health and Human Services (HHS)Secretary Azar, asking that they preserve and turn over any information and records pertaining to the development and execution of the Administration’s so-called “zero tolerance”—which really meant family separation—immigration enforcement policy and the detention of migrants.
"I am pleased to say that DHS and HHS have, for the most part, complied with this request. However, in a span of 6 months, the Department of Justice has produced only a smattering of heavily redacted emails. And yet together, these documents represent the Trump Administration’s most substantive response to the various immigration-related inquires we have made this Congress.
"In April, we requested documents and information regarding troubling reports that the Administration was considering retaliatory actions against certain Members of Congress who the President deemed to be in opposition to his funding and policy priorities. That the President openly discussed this tactic on social media shocks the conscience. After sending a follow-up letter, we were told by agency officials that because these actions were never executed, there was no need for the disclosure of related documents or information. That is for Congress to decide, not the Administration.
"In May 2019, I, along with several of my Judiciary Committee colleagues, wrote to DHS demanding an immediate investigation into the deaths of five migrant children at the Southern border over the last 6 months, as well as a Committee Member briefing on conditions in short-term holding facilities.
"Having been to El Paso twice this year, I was already aware that conditions were deplorable and unacceptable, and with the release of two DHS Office of Inspector General reports, my concerns have grown exponentially. To date, DHS has not provided a single briefing or any response to the letter.
"I use these examples to highlight the scope of serious concerns we have raised with the Administration, and the systematic withholding of information, despite our oversight responsibility on behalf of the American people. We have given the Administration ample time to respond to these serious reports of egregious conduct. This Committee cannot sit idly by. There must be oversight and accountability.
"On that subject, in April 2019, along with Zoe Lofgren, Chair of the Immigration and Citizenship Subcommittee, and Steve Cohen, Chair of the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties Subcommittee, I sent a letter to Acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan—requesting information and documents related to President Trump’s reported offer to pardon him if he were to illegally close the Southern border, as the President had apparently suggested he should do. A follow-up letter was sent on May 29, but we have yet to receive any response to these inquiries.
"That matters because it represents a very serious threat to our rule of law system—and it brings me to the other group of subpoenas we are authorizing today. These 12 subpoenas relate to the Committee’s ongoing investigation into allegations of obstruction of justice, public corruption, and abuses of power, including such conduct described within the scope of the Mueller Report.
"The Special Counsel, who will be appearing before this Committee next week, found in his report that the Russian government attacked the 2016 U.S. presidential election in “sweeping and systematic fashion.” He also detailed 10 instances of possible obstruction of the investigation of that most serious matter, as well as other possible misconduct.
"The Committee on the Judiciary has a constitutional obligation to investigate credible allegations of misconduct. We have been doing that through pursuing the unredacted Mueller Report and key related witnesses and documents. There is no substitute for primary evidence as the Committee makes its decisions, which is why we have sought documents and testimony from former White House Counsel Donald McGahn, former White House Communications Director Hope Hicks, and former Deputy White House Counsel Annie Donaldson.
"Today we focus on twelve additional witnesses. These include government officials who worked (or continue to work) in close proximity to the President. These witnesses also include those outside of government who have critical information in connection with our investigation. We will not rest until we obtain their testimony and documents so this Committee and Congress can do the work the Constitution, and the American people, expect of us."