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115th Congress    }                                   {        Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 1st Session      }                                   {       115-335

======================================================================

 
   RESOLUTION OF INQUIRY REQUESTING THE PRESIDENT AND DIRECTING THE 
 ATTORNEY GENERAL TO TRANSMIT, RESPECTIVELY, CERTAIN DOCUMENTS TO THE 
  HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES RELATING TO THE REMOVAL OF FORMER FEDERAL 
              BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION DIRECTOR JAMES COMEY

                                _______
                                

 September 28, 2017.--Referred to the House Calendar and ordered to be 
                                printed

                                _______
                                

   Mr. Goodlatte, from the Committee on the Judiciary, submitted the 
                               following

                             ADVERSE REPORT

                             together with

                            DISSENTING VIEWS

                       [To accompany H. Res. 488]

    The Committee on the Judiciary, to whom was referred the 
resolution (H. Res. 488) of inquiry requesting the President 
and directing the Attorney General to transmit, respectively, 
certain documents to the House of Representatives relating to 
the removal of former Federal Bureau of Investigation Director 
James Comey, having considered the same, report unfavorably 
thereon with an amendment and recommend that the resolution as 
amended not be agreed to.

                                CONTENTS

                                                                   Page
The Amendment....................................................     2
Purpose and Summary..............................................     2
Background and Need for the Legislation..........................     2
Hearings.........................................................     4
Committee Consideration..........................................     4
Committee Votes..................................................     4
Committee Oversight Findings.....................................     7
New Budget Authority and Tax Expenditures........................     7
Committee Cost Estimate..........................................     7
Duplication of Federal Programs..................................     7
Disclosure of Directed Rule Makings..............................     7
Performance Goals and Objectives.................................     7
Advisory on Earmarks.............................................     8
Section-by-Section Analysis......................................     8
Dissenting Views.................................................     9

                             The Amendment

    The amendment is as follows:
  Strike all after the resolving clause and insert the 
following:

That the President is requested, and Attorney General of the United 
States is directed, to transmit, respectively (in a manner appropriate 
to classified information, if the President or Attorney General 
determines appropriate), to the House of Representatives, not later 
than 14 days after the date of the adoption of this resolution, copies 
of any document, record, audio recording, memo, correspondence, or 
other communication in their possessions, or any portion of any such 
communication, that refers or relates to the following:
          (1) The removal of James B. Comey from his position as the 
        director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
          (2) The participation of Attorney General Jefferson Sessions 
        in the removal of Director Comey.
          (3) The scope or application of Attorney General Sessions' 
        recusal from ``any existing or future investigations of any 
        matters in any way related to the campaigns for President of 
        the United States''.
          (4) The application of Attorney General Sessions' recusal to 
        the removal of Director Comey.
          (5) The scope or application of executive privilege as 
        applied to the June 13, 2017, testimony of Attorney General 
        Sessions before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
          (6) President Donald J. Trump's statement, communicated via 
        Twitter on May 12, 2017, at 8:26 a.m.: ``James Comey better 
        hope that there are no `tapes' of our conversations before he 
        starts leaking to the press!''.
          (7) Any system used by the White House to secretly record 
        conversations between President Trump and Director Comey.
          (8) Any contemporaneous account of any meeting between 
        President Trump and Director Comey.
          (9) Any communication Donald Trump, Jr., Paul Manafort, or 
        Jared Kushner may have had with the Department of Justice or 
        the Federal Bureau of Investigation that relates to their June 
        9, 2016, meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya, Rinat Akhmetshin, 
        and Irakly Kaveladze.
          (10) Any analysis regarding the violation of any criminal law 
        with respect to that June 9, 2016, meeting, including any 
        analysis of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, the 
        Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, or the Espionage Act of 1917 as 
        it may pertain to a Federal campaign's attempt to obtain 
        information that ``would incriminate Hillary'' from a foreign 
        government.
          (11) The disposition or review of any application for a 
        security clearance submitted by White House advisor Jared 
        Kushner or Attorney General Sessions.

                          Purpose and Summary

    House Resolution 488 is a non-binding resolution of inquiry 
that requests that the Trump Administration provide the House 
of Representatives with certain documents related to the 
removal of James B. Comey from his position as director of the 
Federal Bureau of Investigation.

                Background and Need for the Legislation

    Resolutions of inquiry, if properly drafted, are given 
privileged parliamentary status in the House. This means that, 
under certain circumstances, a resolution of inquiry can be 
considered on the House floor even if the committee to which it 
was referred has not ordered the resolution reported and the 
majority party's leadership has not scheduled it for 
consideration. Clause 7 of rule XIII of the Rules of the House 
of Representatives requires the committee to which the 
resolution is referred to act on the resolution within 14 
legislative days, or a motion to discharge the committee from 
consideration is considered privileged on the floor of the 
House. In calculating the days available for committee 
consideration, the day of introduction and the day of discharge 
are not counted.\1\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \1\Wm. Holmes Brown, et al., House Practice: A Guide to the Rules, 
Precedents, and Procedures of the House ch. 49, Sec.  6, p. 834 (2011).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Under the Rules and precedents of the House, a resolution 
of inquiry is a means by which the House may request 
information from the President or the head of one of the 
executive departments. According to Deschler's Precedents, it 
is a ``simple resolution making a direct request or demand of 
the President or the head of an executive department to furnish 
the House of Representatives with specific factual information 
in the possession of the executive branch.''\2\ Such 
resolutions must ask for facts, documents, or specific 
information; they may not be used to request an opinion or 
require an investigation.\3\ Resolutions of inquiry are not 
akin to subpoenas, they have no legal force, and thus 
compliance by the Executive Branch with the House's request for 
information is purely voluntary.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \2\7 Deschler's Precedents of the United States House of 
Representatives, H. Doc. No. 94-661, 94th Cong., 2d Sess., ch. 24, 
Sec.  8.
    \3\A resolution that seeks more than factual information does not 
enjoy privileged status. Brown, supra note 1, at 833-34.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    According to a study conducted by the Congressional 
Research Service (CRS), between 1947 and 2011, 290 resolutions 
of inquiry were introduced in the House.\4\ Within this period, 
CRS found that ``two periods in particular, 1971-1975 and 2003-
2006, saw the highest levels of activity on resolutions of 
inquiry'' and that the ``Committees on Armed Services, Foreign 
Affairs, and the Judiciary have received the largest share of 
references.''\5\ CRS further found that ``in recent Congresses, 
such resolutions have overwhelmingly become a tool of the 
minority party in the House.''\6\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \4\Christopher M. Davis, Congressional Research Service, 
Resolutions of Inquiry: An Analysis of Their Use in the House, 1947-
2011 at i (2012).
    \5\Id.
    \6\Id.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    A Committee has a number of choices after a resolution of 
inquiry is referred to it. It may vote on the resolution up or 
down as is or it may amend it, and it may report the resolution 
favorably, unfavorably, or with no recommendation.
    H. Res. 488 is the fifth resolution of inquiry that the 
Judiciary Committee has been forced to consider this Congress. 
This is the same number of resolutions of inquiry that all 
other House committees combined have considered. As members of 
the majority have pointed out in debate regarding these 
resolutions, resolutions of inquiry, even if acted upon by the 
House, have no greater legal force than sending the Executive 
Branch a letter. Except that sending a letter does not 
monopolize the Committee's time. Time that the Committee could 
better spend on working to reform our nation's immigration 
system; enacting criminal justice reform; reauthorizing the 
Department of Justice; advancing legislation to create jobs and 
restore economic prosperity for families and businesses across 
the nation; securing constitutional freedoms; or working on 
legislation that helps protect our citizens from the threats 
posed by crime and terrorism.
    H. Res. 488 is particularly emblematic of the time-
consuming nature of these resolutions. At the Committee's July 
26, 2017 business meeting, the Committee debated a resolution 
of inquiry (H. Res. 446) that was nearly identical to H. Res. 
488. Debate on that resolution took almost two-and-a-half 
hours. H. Res. 488 required the Committee to debate essentially 
the same resolution all over again. The Committee cannot 
continue to debate these repetitive, non-binding resolutions--
resolutions that seek information that is already subject to 
investigation by at least five other entities.
    This Committee is conducting oversight as appropriate into 
Special Counsel Mueller's investigation into Russian 
interference in the 2016 elections and potential ties to the 
Trump Campaign. In fact Chairman Goodlatte and Ranking Member 
Conyers recently met with Mr. Mueller. However, the 
investigation must be allowed to proceed without outside 
political interference. The resolution injects the very 
political influence the Committee seeks to avoid.

                                Hearings

    The Committee on the Judiciary held no hearings on H. Res. 
488.

                        Committee Consideration

    On, September 7, 2017, the Committee met in open session 
and ordered H. Res. 488 unfavorably reported with an amendment, 
by a roll call vote of 23-8, a quorum being present.

                            Committee Votes

    In compliance with clause 3(b) of rule XIII of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives, the Committee advises that the 
following roll call votes occurred during the Committee's 
consideration of H. Res. 488.
    1. Motion to order the previous question. Approved 18 to 1.

                             ROLLCALL NO. 1
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                  Ayes    Nays   Present
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Mr. Goodlatte (VA), Chairman...................      X
Mr. Sensenbrenner, Jr. (WI)....................      X
Mr. Smith (TX).................................      X
Mr. Chabot (OH)................................      X
Mr. Issa (CA)..................................
Mr. King (IA)..................................
Mr. Franks (AZ)................................      X
Mr. Gohmert (TX)...............................      X
Mr. Jordan (OH)................................      X
Mr. Poe (TX)...................................      X
Mr. Marino (PA)................................      X
Mr. Gowdy (SC).................................      X
Mr. Labrador (ID)..............................      X
Mr. Farenthold (TX)............................      X
Mr. Collins (GA)...............................      X
Mr. DeSantis (FL)..............................
Mr. Buck (CO)..................................
Mr. Ratcliffe (TX).............................
Ms. Roby (AL)..................................      X
Mr. Gaetz (FL).................................      X
Mr. Johnson (LA)...............................      X
Mr. Biggs (AZ).................................
Mr. Rutherford (FL)............................      X
Ms. Handel (GA)................................      X
 
Mr. Conyers, Jr. (MI), Ranking Member..........
Mr. Nadler (NY)................................
Ms. Lofgren (CA)...............................
Ms. Jackson Lee (TX)...........................
Mr. Cohen (TN).................................
Mr. Johnson (GA)...............................
Mr. Deutch (FL)................................
Mr. Gutierrez (IL).............................
Ms. Bass (CA)..................................
Mr. Richmond (LA)..............................
Mr. Jeffries (NY)..............................
Mr. Cicilline (RI).............................
Mr. Swalwell (CA)..............................
Mr. Lieu (CA)..................................
Mr. Raskin (MD)................................
Ms. Jayapal (WA)...............................
Mr. Schneider (IL).............................              X
                                                ------------------------
    Total......................................     18       1
------------------------------------------------------------------------


    2. A substitute amendment offered by Mr. Goodlatte to make 
technical corrections. Approved 17 to 1.

                             ROLLCALL NO. 2
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                  Ayes    Nays   Present
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Mr. Goodlatte (VA), Chairman...................      X
Mr. Sensenbrenner, Jr. (WI)....................      X
Mr. Smith (TX).................................      X
Mr. Chabot (OH)................................      X
Mr. Issa (CA)..................................
Mr. King (IA)..................................
Mr. Franks (AZ)................................      X
Mr. Gohmert (TX)...............................      X
Mr. Jordan (OH)................................
Mr. Poe (TX)...................................      X
Mr. Marino (PA)................................      X
Mr. Gowdy (SC).................................      X
Mr. Labrador (ID)..............................      X
Mr. Farenthold (TX)............................      X
Mr. Collins (GA)...............................      X
Mr. DeSantis (FL)..............................
Mr. Buck (CO)..................................
Mr. Ratcliffe (TX).............................
Ms. Roby (AL)..................................      X
Mr. Gaetz (FL).................................      X
Mr. Johnson (LA)...............................      X
Mr. Biggs (AZ).................................
Mr. Rutherford (FL)............................      X
Ms. Handel (GA)................................      X
 
Mr. Conyers, Jr. (MI), Ranking Member..........
Mr. Nadler (NY)................................
Ms. Lofgren (CA)...............................
Ms. Jackson Lee (TX)...........................
Mr. Cohen (TN).................................
Mr. Johnson (GA)...............................
Mr. Deutch (FL)................................
Mr. Gutierrez (IL).............................
Ms. Bass (CA)..................................
Mr. Richmond (LA)..............................
Mr. Jeffries (NY)..............................
Mr. Cicilline (RI).............................
Mr. Swalwell (CA)..............................
Mr. Lieu (CA)..................................
Mr. Raskin (MD)................................
Ms. Jayapal (WA)...............................
Mr. Schneider (IL).............................              X
                                                ------------------------
    Total......................................     17       1
------------------------------------------------------------------------


    3. Motion to report H. Res. 488 unfavorably to the House. 
Approved 23 to 8.

                             ROLLCALL NO. 3
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                  Ayes    Nays   Present
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Mr. Goodlatte (VA), Chairman...................      X
Mr. Sensenbrenner, Jr. (WI)....................      X
Mr. Smith (TX).................................      X
Mr. Chabot (OH)................................      X
Mr. Issa (CA)..................................      X
Mr. King (IA)..................................      X
Mr. Franks (AZ)................................      X
Mr. Gohmert (TX)...............................      X
Mr. Jordan (OH)................................      X
Mr. Poe (TX)...................................      X
Mr. Marino (PA)................................      X
Mr. Gowdy (SC).................................      X
Mr. Labrador (ID)..............................      X
Mr. Farenthold (TX)............................      X
Mr. Collins (GA)...............................      X
Mr. DeSantis (FL)..............................
Mr. Buck (CO)..................................      X
Mr. Ratcliffe (TX).............................      X
Ms. Roby (AL)..................................      X
Mr. Gaetz (FL).................................      X
Mr. Johnson (LA)...............................      X
Mr. Biggs (AZ).................................      X
Mr. Rutherford (FL)............................      X
Ms. Handel (GA)................................      X
 
Mr. Conyers, Jr. (MI), Ranking Member..........              X
Mr. Nadler (NY)................................              X
Ms. Lofgren (CA)...............................
Ms. Jackson Lee (TX)...........................              X
Mr. Cohen (TN).................................              X
Mr. Johnson (GA)...............................
Mr. Deutch (FL)................................
Mr. Gutierrez (IL).............................
Ms. Bass (CA)..................................
Mr. Richmond (LA)..............................
Mr. Jeffries (NY)..............................
Mr. Cicilline (RI).............................              X
Mr. Swalwell (CA)..............................
Mr. Lieu (CA)..................................
Mr. Raskin (MD)................................              X
Ms. Jayapal (WA)...............................              X
Mr. Schneider (IL).............................              X
                                                ------------------------
    Total......................................     23       8
------------------------------------------------------------------------

                      Committee Oversight Findings

    In compliance with clause 3(c)(1) of rule XIII of the Rules 
of the House of Representatives, the Committee advises that the 
findings and recommendations of the Committee, based on 
oversight activities under clause 2(b)(1) of rule X of the 
Rules of the House of Representatives, are incorporated in the 
descriptive portions of this report.

               New Budget Authority and Tax Expenditures

    Clause 3(c)(2) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives is inapplicable because this legislation does 
not provide new budgetary authority or increased tax 
expenditures.

                        Committee Cost Estimate

    In compliance with clause 3(d) of rule XIII of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives, the Committee estimates that 
implementing this non-binding resolution would not result in 
any significant costs. The Congressional Budget Office did not 
provide a cost estimate for the resolution.

                    Duplication of Federal Programs

    No provision of H. Res. 488 establishes or reauthorizes a 
program of the Federal government known to be duplicative of 
another Federal program, a program that was included in any 
report from the Government Accountability Office to Congress 
pursuant to section 21 of Public Law 111-139, or a program 
related to a program identified in the most recent Catalog of 
Federal Domestic Assistance.

                  Disclosure of Directed Rule Makings

    The Committee finds that H. Res. 488 contains no directed 
rule making within the meaning of 5 U.S.C. Sec. 551.

                    Performance Goals and Objectives

    The Committee states that pursuant to clause 3(c)(4) of 
rule XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives, H. Res. 
488 requests certain documents from the Trump Administration 
related to the dismissal of former Federal Bureau of 
Investigation Director James Comey.

                          Advisory on Earmarks

    In accordance with clause 9 of rule XXI of the Rules of the 
House of Representatives, H. Res. 488 does not contain any 
congressional earmarks, limited tax benefits, or limited tariff 
benefits as defined in clause 9(e), 9(f), or 9(g) of rule XXI.

                      Section-by-Section Analysis

    The following discussion describes the resolution as 
reported by the Committee.
    H. Res. 488, a non-binding resolution of inquiry, requests 
that the President and the Attorney General of the United 
States transmit certain documents and communications to the 
House of Representatives related to the removal of James B. 
Comey from his position as the director of the Federal Bureau 
of Investigation.

                            Dissenting Views

    H. Res. 488, introduced by Representatives David Cicilline 
(D-RI) and Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), directs the Trump 
Administration to produce information related to certain key 
events at the Department of Justice--among them, the removal of 
James Comey from his position as director of the Federal Bureau 
of Investigation (FBI), the seemingly arbitrary application of 
the Attorney General's recusal from matters related to the 
presidential campaigns, and President Donald Trump's claim that 
he maintains secret ``tapes'' of his private conversations with 
Mr. Comey.\1\ This resolution represents our second attempt to 
debate this subject matter and proceed to an up-or-down vote. 
Once again, the Majority has shown that it would rather change 
the subject--or cut off debate entirely--than conduct even 
modest oversight of the Trump Administration.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \1\@realDonaldTrump (President Donald J. Trump), Twitter, May 12, 
2017, 8:26 AM.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Any one of the issues raised by H. Res. 488 would 
ordinarily command the attention of the Committee. The 
information we seek is critical to our ability to conduct 
oversight of the executive branch, and to push back against the 
President's direct attacks on the leadership and integrity of 
the Department of Justice. The Majority refuses to do this 
work. At markup, rather than discuss the resolution on the 
merits, Chairman Bob Goodlatte simply ``called the previous 
question'' and cut off debate just as consideration of H. Res. 
488 had begun.
    This move breaks with the Committee's long commitment to 
the rights of the Minority, no matter which party is in charge. 
The Majority is entitled to disagree with us about the 
importance of conducting oversight--but we cannot tolerate a 
situation where they dispose of a resolution of inquiry without 
first providing us with the courtesy of open debate. We object 
to the procedures employed during the consideration of this 
important measure and dissent from the Majority's decision to 
report it unfavorably.

I. H. RES. 488 IS NECESSARY BECAUSE THE MAJORITY UNDERMINED AN EARLIER 
  RESOLUTION BY TURNING IT INTO A LIST OF HILLARY CLINTON CONSPIRACY 
                                THEORIES

    Representatives Jayapal and Cicilline introduced a 
substantively similar resolution, H. Res. 446, on July 14, 
2017. Like H. Res. 488, H. Res. 446 sought information about 
the firing of James Comey, the scope and application of the 
Attorney General's recusal, and the President's alleged 
recordings of his private conversations with Mr. Comey.
    Rather than debate H. Res. 446 at the Committee markup in 
July, however, the Majority adopted an amendment offered by 
Representative Matthew Gaetz (R-FL) that struck the contents of 
the resolution and replaced it with a long list of unfounded 
grievances aimed at Hillary Clinton.\2\ We learned later that 
Representative Gaetz's office had solicited suggestions for the 
amendment from r/The_Donald, an online forum hosted by Reddit 
whose members promote pro-Trump conspiracy theories and often 
self-identify as racist, anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim, 
misogynistic, pro-Nazi, and anti-immigrant.\3\ The Majority 
embraced this amendment unanimously, and passed it on a party 
line vote.\4\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \2\See H.R. Rep. No. 115-300, Sept. 8, 2017. ``Rather than debate 
the resolution on the merits, however, the Majority has shown us where 
their priorities lie: they would rather chase the ghost of Hillary 
Clinton's emails than face the fact of widespread dysfunction at the 
White House and the Department of Justice.'' Id. (dissenting views).
    \3\Ashley Feinberg, A GOP staffer crowdsources an anti-Clinton 
resolution from Reddit, Wired, July 28, 2017. See also The Data Team, 
The origin of the specious, The Economist, July 4, 2017; Caitlin Dewey, 
The people running this Trump fan club also promote eugenics and call 
Muslims ``animals'', Wash. Post, July 20, 2016.
    \4\H.R. Rep. No. 115-300, Sept. 8, 2017.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    In a letter to Chairman Goodlatte (R-VA) after the markup 
of H. Res. 446, Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), 
together with Representatives Cicilline, and Jayapal expressed 
their frustration with this heavy-handed tactic:

          As the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, you 
        have no need to distort our legislation in order to 
        accomplish your oversight needs. You may demand 
        whatever information you wish from the Trump 
        Administration, supported by the threat of subpoena . . 
        . . Indeed, we have urged you for months to conduct 
        even basic oversight of the Department of Justice. We 
        repeat our request that you call hearings with the 
        leadership of the Department as soon as possible.
          If even that power is insufficient for your needs, 
        then members of the Majority are free to offer 
        resolutions of inquiry of their own.\5\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \5\Letter from Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr., et al., to 
Chairman Bob Goodlatte, H. Comm. on the Judiciary, July 28, 2017.

The Majority did not respond to the letter and still has not 
scheduled a single substantive oversight hearing. With no other 
recourse, Representatives Cicilline and Jayapal introduced H. 
Res. 488 to demand an open debate on the substance of their 
resolution, rather than on a trite inventory of Clinton-related 
conspiracy theories.
    H. Res. 488 covers much of the same subject matter as its 
predecessor. The resolution asks for information about the 
firing of James Comey, the Attorney General's recusal, and the 
President's conversations with the FBI director prior to his 
removal. H. Res. 488 also incorporates two amendments our 
Members had planned to offer at the markup of the earlier 
resolution. Accordingly, H. Res. 488 now asks for information 
about a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between senior 
campaign officials and representatives of the Russian 
government, as well as for information about security clearance 
applications submitted by White House advisor Jared Kushner and 
Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Obtaining this information 
would represent a modest first step in fulfilling our 
Committee's oversight responsibilities.

II. THE MAJORITY CUT OFF DEBATE TO AVOID ITS OVERSIGHT RESPONSIBILITIES

    The markup of H. Res. 488 was brief. Chairman Goodlatte 
complained that the resolution was an example of ``partisan 
mudslinging'' and a waste of time.\6\ Ranking Member Conyers 
responded to that criticism, stating that ``until the 
Administration answers our questions, and until the Majority 
calls them here to do so, my colleagues and I will do 
everything in our power to hold both the Administration and the 
Majority accountable.''\7\ Representative Gaetz pitched an 
amendment that he would not be permitted to offer--arguing, 
incredulously, that ``[t]he only evidence of collusion with 
Russia is the evidence that Hillary Clinton was working with 
Russian operatives.''\8\ He yielded time to Representative Jim 
Jordan (R-OH), who wondered aloud: ``[w]hy is not the House 
Judiciary Committee doing an investigation'' into Hillary 
Clinton, Cheryl Mills, and former Attorney General Loretta 
Lynch?\9\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \6\Unofficial Tr. of Markup of H.R. 3229; H.R. 620; H. Res. 488, 
before the H. Comm. on the Judiciary, 115th Cong. (Sept. 7, 2017) 
(statement of Chairman Bob Goodlatte) [hereinafter Markup Tr.].
    \7\Id. (statement of Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr.).
    \8\Id. (statement of Rep. Matthew Gaetz).
    \9\Id. (statement of Rep. Jim Jordan).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Representative Cicilline, who was the last Member permitted 
to speak on the resolution, then got to the heart of the 
matter:

          When Congresswoman Jayapal and I originally filed 
        this resolution of inquiry, we were seeking answers to 
        urgent questions about the conduct of members of the 
        Trump Administration. These questions remain and they 
        include . . . the full extent of the ties between 
        Donald Trump's inner circle and the Kremlin; whether 
        James Comey was fired to hide the truth about Donald 
        Trump's ties to Russia or collusion between the Trump 
        campaign and Russian officials; and if Jeff Sessions 
        violated his recusal when he participated in the firing 
        of James Comey.
          [W]e were denied not only the answers to our 
        questions, we were denied the right to even ask those 
        questions. Instead of allowing us to have a debate and 
        offer amendments, the Majority used a procedural 
        maneuver to erase our underlying resolution and turn 
        [it] into a vehicle to conduct yet another pointless, 
        baseless investigation of Hillary Clinton . . . .
          Why we would abdicate our constitutional oversight 
        role is beyond me.\10\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \10\Id. (statement of Rep. David Cicilline).

Chairman Goodlatte then proceeded to move the previous 
question, thereby halting any further discussion of H. Res. 
488.\11\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \11\``The motion to order the previous question proposes to stop 
the debate and block amendments . . . . The committee immediately votes 
on the motion and, if it is agreed to by majority vote, the committee 
proceeds to vote on the amendment. No further debate on the amendment 
is in order, nor can members offer any amendments to it.'' The 
Committee Markup Process in the House of Representatives, Cong. 
Research Service, Dec. 2, 2016 (RL30244).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    For many years, our Committee has prided itself on being 
able to agree to fair process and full debate, even when we 
disagree on the substance of matters before us. By cutting off 
debate on H. Res. 488, and by diverting the core purpose of H. 
Res. 446 in an earlier markup, the Majority has threatened this 
longstanding and mutually honored understanding.
    The maneuver itself is largely foreign to our Committee. 
Prior chairmen of this Committee have rarely, if ever, called 
the previous question. During his tenure as chairman, Ranking 
Member Conyers never suspended debate in this manner. Some 
chairmen have used the motion as a device to expedite Committee 
business, with the unanimous consent of the Members.\12\ 
Chairman Henry Hyde (R-IL) once called the previous question 
during the impeachment of President Bill Clinton, but only 
after days of related hearings and hours of fulsome debate.\13\ 
There is no modern precedent for Chairman Goodlatte's decision 
to end consideration of legislation just as debate had begun.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \12\See, e.g., Markup of H.R. 807 before the H. Comm. on the 
Judiciary, 107th Cong., June 20, 2001; Markup of H. Res. 437 before the 
H. Comm. on the Judiciary, 107th Cong., July 17, 2002.
    \13\See Markup of H. Res. 611 before the H. Comm. on the Judiciary, 
105th Cong., Nov. 19, 1998.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

  III. THE MAJORITY FAILED TO JUSTIFY THEIR DECISION TO CUT OFF DEBATE

    At markup, the Majority raised several arguments in an 
attempt to justify the decision to cut off debate. Each of 
these claims is inaccurate, unpersuasive, or both.
    The Majority argued that we did not need to debate H. Res. 
488 because ``there is a special counsel in place examining the 
issue this resolution seeks to shed light on.''\14\ Although 
some aspects of the resolution--the President's decision to 
fire James Comey, for example--may be under examination by 
Special Counsel Robert Mueller, nothing about that 
investigation prevents the Committee from conducting its own 
oversight. Further, there is no indication that the Special 
Counsel is reviewing whether Attorney General Sessions has 
complied with the terms of his own recusal or whether certain 
questionable security clearances should be revoked. These 
matters are central to the information we had hoped to obtain 
through H. Res. 488.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \14\Markup Tr., supra note 5 (statement of Chairman Bob Goodlatte).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The Majority asserted that H. Res. 488 ``is simply an 
exercise in partisan mudslinging.''\15\ This is also 
inaccurate. This resolution of inquiry, and its predecessor, 
represent an attempt to obtain information about well-
substantiated allegations of misconduct in the Trump 
Administration.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \15\Id.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The Majority claimed that the Committee ``does not have the 
time'' to consider H. Res. 488, in part because it ``barely 
differs from Ms. Jayapal's resolution we considered in July, 
and because debate on H. Res. 446 ``took almost two-and-a-half 
hours of the Committee's time.''\16\ In fact, out of the two 
hours and 15 minutes that the Committee debated H. Res. 446, a 
full one hour and 50 minutes was dedicated to the Gaetz 
Amendment--which the Majority embraced unanimously. Indeed, had 
the Committee considered H. Res. 446 in the ordinary course--
allowing for a full debate on the subject matter of that 
resolution, instead of demeaning the Committee with a call for 
yet another investigation into ``Hillary Clinton, the Clinton 
Foundation, and . . . the obvious crimes committed 
therein,''\17\--it seems unlikely that Representatives 
Cicilline and Jayapal would have seen a need to introduce H. 
Res. 488.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \16\Id.
    \17\Id. (statement of Rep. Matthew Gaetz).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Finally, the Majority complained that it should not have to 
debate H. Res. 488 because our Committee has considered ``the 
same number of resolutions of inquiry that all other House 
committees have had to consider.''\18\ We cannot change the 
fact that the Department of Justice and the FBI play central 
roles in the allegations of abuse of power and obstruction of 
justice surrounding the Trump Administration--or that oversight 
of these agencies falls squarely within our jurisdiction. The 
Committee must eventually play a lead role in Congress's 
response to this alleged misconduct. To date, however, the 
Majority has made no meaningful effort to engage with the 
Department of Justice or the FBI.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \18\Id. (statement of Chairman Bob Goodlatte).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    We are not alone in our frustration at the Majority's 
unwillingness to fulfill our oversight responsibilities. At the 
markup, Representative Jordan made clear that he agreed with 
Ranking Member Conyers on the question of prioritizing 
oversight:

          We should conduct our own investigation, as the 
        Ranking Member just said, which raises one more 
        important ``why'' for the House Judiciary Committee. 
        Why will not this committee look into this?
          [T]he most important question is the one we need to 
        ask ourselves. Why is not the House Judiciary Committee 
        doing an investigation?\19\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \19\Id. (statement of Rep. Jim Jordan).

    In this same spirit, we have attempted to conduct oversight 
where the Majority will not. We have written to the Trump 
Administration on more than twenty occasions. We have not 
received a single meaningful response. In fact, the 
Administration has gone so far as to indicate that it will not 
respond at all to letters sent by Democratic Members (or rank-
and-file Republicans).\20\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \20\Burgess Everett and Josh Dawsey, White House orders agencies to 
ignore Democratic oversight requests, Politico, June 2, 2017. See also 
Letter to President Donald J. Trump from Chairman Charles E. Grassley, 
S. Comm. on the Judiciary, June 7, 2017.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    We have also written collectively to Chairman Goodlatte on 
seven occasions--and Ranking Member Conyers has written 
separately an additional four times--making eleven attempts to 
secure oversight hearings with the Attorney General, the Deputy 
Attorney General, the Director and former Director of the FBI, 
and the Secretary or Acting Secretary of Homeland Security. We 
have not received a response to these letters either. To date, 
the Majority has not scheduled a single substantive oversight 
hearing since President Trump took office.
    In the face of this failure to act, resolutions of inquiry 
like H. Res. 488 often represent our only available recourse to 
conduct oversight. We will not be deterred from carrying out 
our constitutional responsibilities by the Majority's reckless 
tactics. We will do our work even if threatened with shortened 
debate and spurious conspiracy theories. Indeed, until the 
Committee finally begins its oversight work in earnest, we have 
little choice.

                               CONCLUSION

    On September 15, 2017, we again wrote to Chairman Goodlatte 
to object to his handling of the markup of H. Res. 488. His 
decision to call the previous question ``was not only premature 
and ill-considered, but also disrespectful to the democratic 
process and to the Minority, in particular.''\21\ We have 
offered to work with the Majority to resolve our concerns. We 
have received no response to this letter either.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \21\Letter from Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr., et al., to 
Chairman Bob Goodlatte, H. Comm. on the Judiciary, Sept. 15, 2017.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The Committee has a duty to ask questions of the Trump 
Administration and to protect the institutions that have been 
trusted to our oversight. H. Res. 488 would have helped us to 
begin asking those questions. Rather than discuss these matters 
further, the Majority cut off debate on the resolution. Its 
reasons for doing so are wholly unpersuasive.
    Because the Majority continues to fall short of the 
Committee's responsibility to conduct oversight of the 
executive branch, and because the Majority has broken with 
longstanding Committee practice in order to stifle debate, we 
dissent.

                                   Mr. Conyers, Jr.
                                   Mr. Nadler.
                                   Ms. Lofgren.
                                   Ms. Jackson Lee.
                                   Mr. Cohen.
                                   Mr. Johnson, Jr.
                                   Mr. Deutch.
                                   Mr. Gutierrez.
                                   Ms. Bass.
                                   Mr. Richmond.
                                   Mr. Jeffries.
                                   Mr. Cicilline.
                                   Mr. Swalwell.
                                   Mr. Lieu.
                                   Mr. Raskin.
                                   Ms. Jayapal.

                                  [all]