Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) unveiled a special resolution Thursday that could force the House to vote to demand documents from the Justice Department regarding President Trump’s business conflicts of interest and possible ties to Russia.
Nadler is invoking a rarely used maneuver called a resolution of inquiry, which must be either considered by a committee within 14 legislative days or automatically brought to the House floor for a vote.
The measure unveiled Thursday will first go to the House Judiciary Committee, which can green-light it for floor consideration or vote it out “unfavorably” to prevent it from reaching the floor.
Nadler said he’s turning to a resolution of inquiry because Democrats’ requests to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteFight breaks out between Jordan, Nadler over rules about showing video at Garland hearing The job of shielding journalists is not finished Bottom line MORE (R-Va.) and Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanNo time for the timid: The dual threats of progressives and Trump Juan Williams: Pelosi shows her power Cheney takes shot at Trump: 'I like Republican presidents who win re-election' MORE (R-Wis.) to investigate Trump’s ongoing ties to his businesses have so far been ignored.
It's the most aggressive move on the issue yet from Democrats on Capitol Hill, who are limited in their ability to make demands of the Trump 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,” Nadler said in a statement.
“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.”
The resolution would direct the Justice Department to provide the House with any documents it has related to criminal or counterintelligence investigations involving Trump or his associates; investments by any foreign government in anything owned by Trump; Trump’s plan to hand over day-to-day operations of his businesses to his two adult sons; Trump’s plans to donate profits to the U.S. Treasury when foreign governments use his hotels; and any other potential conflicts of interest the president may have.
Trump’s eldest sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, have reportedly taken over management of the family's business empire, but critics and watchdogs say the change in leadership does not go far enough to prevent conflicts of interest.
While the president has denied having any business dealings with Russia, some of his associates, including national security adviser Michael Flynn and former political advisers Paul Manafort, Carter Page and Roger Stone, have reportedly come to the attention of federal investigators for alleged ties to the Russian government.
The last resolution of inquiry to reach the House floor was in 1995, according to a Congressional Research Service report.
The maneuver has primarily become a tool of the House minority, the report notes, and appeared to only result in the production of information about 30 percent of the time.