We the People: Russia House?

We know that the Trump White House has mysterious and unexplained connections to Russia but hopefully House Republicans are not going to be “Da Men” for President Trump just to maintain power in Washington.

Will they cast a blind eye to the chief executive’s secretive love affair with Moscow just to exercise control of our government? The House Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over legislation affecting the federal courts, administrative agencies and federal law enforcement entities as well as oversight power, recently formed its annual action plan and considered making amendments to it that would have addressed questions of interference in our government and possible interference in our presidential election by Russia.

Representative Bob Goodlatte [R-VA], the chair of the committee, offered an amendment which promised hope that the relationship between President Trump and Russia and the credible allegation that Russia interfered in the presidential election would be investigated.

He stated the committee would conduct oversight into “allegations of misconduct by officials of the executive branch and into allegations of foreign interference” in the election. It was a mere sleight of hand. The Republican majority on the Committee then proceeded to reject the amendment, making it look like the chair could not control his members. The Republicans can claim they tried to investigate while still shielding President Trump from scrutiny.

Specifically, the inaction of the committee prevented examination into whether President Trump is violating the Foreign Emoluments Clause and whether Russia engaged in an effort to influence the presidential election in favor of President Trump.

The Emoluments Clause is a provision in Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution that prohibits government officials from receiving gifts or payments (emoluments) from foreign sources without the consent of the Congress. It is supposed to protect our leaders from foreign influence. It basically serves as a federal anti-bribery law to prevent the possibility of influence by a foreign power in our government.

The concerns that President Trump has a secretive and unexplained close connection to Russia are legitimate. He has “massive” business and real estate dealings and many are located in foreign countries. The connections, especially to Russia, may make him vulnerable to being influenced as he serves as president.

The Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee filed a report which officially blocked any effort to exercise oversight or increase the transparency of the Trump administration by Congress, and killed any chance of congressional examination of his ties to Russia and allegations of interference by Russia in the presidential election by this committee.

A resolution seeking an inquiry had been introduced by Representative Jerrold Nadler which would have directed the Department of Justice to provide Congress with any and all information relevant to an inquiry into conflicts of interest or ethical problems of President Trump or members of his cabinet in dealing with Russia.

The resolution was a simple request for information but the Republicans wanted no action instead of investigation. The Republicans stalled on the resolution and used the rules of procedure to kill it.  Why do Republicans fear transparency? A fair investigation could put to rest the questions of conflicts of interest or interference in the presidential election once and for all.

The White House alternative to answers or action was predictable. President Trump dealt with the vexing questions by making statements on Twitter. He announced by tweet that President Obama had “wiretapped” Trump Tower.

This should redirect the resources of the Department of Justice into a baseless and useless investigation. The symbol of the Trump White House should be the red herring. Will President Trump ever answer a question or make a statement without turning it into a joke or a nonsensical conspiracy theory comment?

How could a Department of Justice led by Attorney General Sessions ever be a watchdog for the White House? Sessions was unable to answer direct questions under oath about his own dealings with Russia. This is a sign of the times.

President Trump never released financial information about his businesses or personal income taxes during the campaign. He has refused to release them even after the election is over. We cannot expect honesty or transparency in his actions or statements but we should be get better representation by the Congress of the United States of America.

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