Florida Rep. Cherfilus-McCormick sworn in as newest House member
Top Judiciary Republican: Mueller hearing could violate 'decency and decorum' rules
House Judiciary Committee ranking Republican Doug Collins (Ga.) is warning Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) that the panel's hearing on special counsel Robert Mueller's report scheduled for Monday may violate decorum rules, objecting to even the hearing's title.
In a letter sent to Nadler on Friday, the Georgia Republican argued it appears the panel is holding a "mock-impeachment inquiry" instead of conducting proper oversight.
"In light of Monday's hearing entitled, 'Lessons from the Mueller Report: Presidential Obstruction and Other Crimes,' I am compelled to remind you - and request you remind the Majority Members of the Committee - the Rules of the House prohibit Members from 'engag[ing] in personalities' with Members of Congress, Senators, or the President," Collins wrote.
"This appears to be part of a strategy to turn the Committee's oversight hearings into a mock-impeachment inquiry rather than a legitimate exercise in congressional oversight. Conducting such hearings inevitably sets this Committee on a collision course with the longstanding Rules of the House, which you have apparently alluded to as recently as this week."
Collins said House rules call for "minimum standards of decency and decorum" on how members should conduct themselves during debate, accusing Democratic lawmakers of failing to comply with the requirement.
"Majority Members of the Committee have demonstrated they either do not understand the Rules or simply are under the mistaken belief the Rules do not apply to them," he said.
Collins went on to say it would be unparliamentary to ridicule President Trump, make personal attacks, or accuse Trump of being a liar or having committed a crime, citing examples of recent attacks on the president made by different Democrats who have referred to him as a "bigot," a "draft-dodger" or "a misogynist."
"Outside of impeachment proceedings - which is clearly the case here - it is out of order for a Member of Congress, in debate, to engage in personalities with the President or express an opinion, even a third-party opinion, accusing the President of a crime. The Rules are clear on this point," he continued.
"To be clear, the criticisms of the actions and policies of a president are an ordinary and necessary component of a healthy democracy. However, there is a well-delineated line separating appropriate discourse from conduct that is clearly out of order," he said.
"Finally, and most timely, the title of this hearing, if read during debate, would tread alarmingly close to the prohibition against engaging in personalities against the President due to its mere suggestion the President committed 'obstruction [of justice] and other crimes.'"
The Judiciary Committee is one of multiple House panels investigating the Mueller report and its findings.
Mueller, who finished his 2-year probe into Russia's election interference this March, did not find enough evidence to accuse the Trump campaign of conspiring with Moscow. He declined to make a determination on whether Trump obstructed justice, but outlined multiple instances of possible obstruction.
"If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so," Mueller said in his only public remarks on the subject.
House Democratic leadership has largely resisted growing calls from the left to begin impeachment proceedings against Trump, with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and her allies arguing instead for continued oversight investigations of the Trump White House.