House Dems seek to force vote on Trump campaign’s Russia ties

March 9, 2017
In The News

Democrats introduced a measure on Thursday that could force the House to vote on demanding documents from President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions outlining campaign contacts with Russian officials.

Reps. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) and Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) unveiled a resolution of inquiry, a procedure rarely used Democrats began reviving it this year under the Trump administration.

Under House rules, their resolution must either be considered by a committee within 14 legislative days or automatically brought to the floor for a vote.

It will first go to the House Judiciary Committee, which can approve it for floor consideration or vote it out unfavorably to prevent it from moving forward. 

“The American people deserve to know why the nation's Attorney General and all of the president's men were in frequent contact with Russian operatives during the election,” Jeffries said in a statement. “Something stinks at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. We are determined to find out if the rot goes all the way to the top.”

“The American people have an absolute right to know the truth about Trump and his team's ties to Russia now,” Lieu said.

The resolution specifically requests information to clarify the circumstances surrounding Sessions’s meeting with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee denying he had any contacts with Russian officials during the 2016 campaign.

Sessions was the first GOP senator to endorse Trump and advised him on national security issues.

After The Washington Post reported Sessions’s testimony omitted his meeting with Kislyak, the attorney general announced he would recuse himself from any investigation related to Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election. 

The resolution also asks for information about meetings between Russian officials and members of Trump’s campaign or transition teams, including the president himself, ousted National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, White House adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, lobbyist Richard Burt, and past advisers Roger Stone, Carter Page, J.D. Gordon and Michael Cohen.

The last resolution of inquiry to reach the House floor was in 1995, according to the Congressional Research Service. 

It’s not the first time Democrats have tried using a resolution of inquiry to force a vote related to Trump and his ties to Russia.

Last week, the House Judiciary Committee blocked Rep. Jerry Nadler’s (D-N.Y.) resolution requesting information about Trump’s possible business conflicts of interest and potential Russia connections.

Democrats have also twice forced votes on the House floor to demand copies of Trump’s tax returns. Both efforts similarly went down on party lines.

But two Republicans, Reps. Mark Sanford (S.C.) and Walter Jones (N.C.), both endorsed a Democratic effort in the form of a letter to the committees with oversight of the Internal Revenue Service requesting Trump’s tax returns.