House panel blocks Dem effort on Trump's potential business conflicts

House panel blocks Dem effort on Trump's potential business conflicts
© Greg Nash

The House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday rejected a Democratic attempt to request information on President Trump’s possible conflicts of interest and potential ties to Russia.

The panel voted on party lines to send a resolution from Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) to the House with an unfavorable recommendation, making it unlikely to get a vote by the full House.

The vote was the latest failed attempt from Democrats to get Congress to request information about Trump’s finances. On Monday, Rep. Bill Pascrell's (D-N.J.) saw his request for a House vote on Trump’s tax returns fail on a party-line vote.

Nadler’s resolution would have directed the Attorney General to provide the House with documents and communications relating to criminal or counterintelligence investigations targeting Trump and his current and former advisers.

It also would have instructed the Justice Department to provide the House with documents about investments by foreign governments in Trump’s businesses, Trump’s plan to turn over management of his businesses to his adult sons and the “emoluments clause” the the U.S. Constitution as it may apply to Trump and White House employees.

Nadler said the resolution is necessary because Democrats have requested investigations into Trump’s potential conflicts of interest and coziness with Russia, but Republicans have generally not responded.

“Between Mr. Trump’s potential conflicts of interest and the potential coordination with a foreign power to interfere with our elections and with our government, the security and integrity of our nation are at stake,“ he said.

Nadler offered the measure as a “resolution of inquiry.” Under House rules, such resolutions can be considered on the House floor if they are not considered in committee within 14 legislative days.

He introduced the resolution after House Democrats sent letters to Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob GoodlatteBob GoodlatteDems will press for no votes on 'Kate's Law' –– but not too hard Chaffetz calls for ,500 legislator housing stipend This week: Senate races toward ObamaCare repeal vote MORE (R-Va.) requesting hearings on ethics provisions that could apply to Trump.

Goodlatte called the resolution “unnecessary, premature, and not the best way for this committee or the House to conduct oversight over the issues covered by the resolution.”

He said the Judiciary Committee is committed to providing oversight of the executive branch, and he has already requested a briefing from the Justice Department about alleged Russian interference in the presidential election. He also said that resolutions of inquiry have no legal force, and that the measure is politically motivated.

“We can and will investigate any credible allegations of misconduct by the executive branch to the extent such allegations fall within this committee’s jurisdiction, but we will not do so through politically-charged resolutions of inquiry that could jeopardize the integrity of the very investigations the resolution calls for,” he said.

Several times during the markup, audience members applauded Democratic lawmakers’ comments. A couple of times, audience members were escorted out of the markup following outbursts.

Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) said “this entire hearing is the very definition of partisanship.” He said the Judiciary Committee should allow the congressional intelligence committees and the FBI to do their jobs.