• April 13th, 2024
  • Saturday, 07:00:26 PM

Time Wasted In House Judiciary Committee


Editor’s Note: Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL) spoke on the House floor on June 7th, urging the Judiciary Committee in the House to get to work on investigations related to President Trump’s and Attorney General Sessions’ ties to Russia and efforts to derail investigations that are taking place in other committees of the House, in the Senate, and by former FBI Director Mueller at the Dept. of Justice. The House Judiciary Committee plays a special role in matters that could lead to impeachment of a sitting President, but so far has been silent.


We waste a lot of time in the House Judiciary Committee; passing bills we have already passed year after year that go nowhere.

But now, evidence is growing that our elections were interfered with by a foreign adversary, evidence that the President and the Attorney General

We waste a lot of time in the House Judiciary Committee; passing bills we have already passed year after year that go nowhere.

have been less than truthful about their meetings and relationships with this foreign adversary, and other Committees in this body and in the Senate and at the Justice Department have launched investigations into the behavior and truthfulness of the President, his subordinates, and his family…but, from the House Judiciary Committee we have heard exactly nothing.

Not a peep. Not a hearing or a subpoena. Nada, zip, nothing. Just crickets.

When I joined the Judiciary Committee, I remember hearing something about how the Committee has jurisdiction over the enforcement of laws, the courts, and the conduct of the Executive Branch, especially when it comes to law enforcement agencies like the FBI or Justice Department, or activities that may or may not be criminal.

And guess what?  I was right. You need look no further than the Committee’s website, where it proudly proclaims: “The Committee on the Judiciary has been called the lawyer for the House of Representatives because of its jurisdiction over matters relating to the administration of justice in federal courts, administrative bodies, and law enforcement agencies.”

And if you dig a little deeper into the Committee’s website and its history you learn: “The committee’s weighty agenda has frequently placed it in a central role in American politics, most notably during its consideration of impeachment charges against presidents of the United States in both 1974 and 1998.”

So with all due respect to the Intelligence or Oversight Committees or to our colleagues in the Senate, it is the Judiciary Committee in the House where impeachment will begin.

We are the Grand Jury.  Robert Mueller, the former FBI Director investigating the President will not be able to indict him no matter what he uncovers.

Most legal scholars argue a sitting President cannot be indicted in criminal court.

So, it is the Judiciary Committee that will bring criminal charges if there is evidence of “Treason, Bribery or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors” as provided by Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution.

But here we are with evidence that the Attorney General lied to a Committee of Congress about his contacts with senior Russian officials – and lied on his security clearance application about contacts with Russian officials – officials who are suspected by our government of being covert espionage operatives, with evidence that hacking and other activities in fact took place directed by Russia…and nothing from the Judiciary Committee.

The Attorney General publicly recused himself from any matters at the Justice Department related to the investigation of Russia contacts, but the Attorney General played a role in the firing of FBI Director James Comey…

…And we now know, because the President said so, that the firing of Comey was done because the President said he was “under great pressure” from the Russia investigation…and still nothing from the Judiciary Committee.

Now, let’s go back to the two dates when the Committee play (quote) “a central role in American politics.”

In 1974, we had a criminal conspiracy that involved tampering with elections that went all the way to the Oval Office. It involved firing senior Justice Department officials who were part of the investigation, asking the intelligence community to discredit the investigations, and there were secretly recorded conversations. Sound familiar?

The Judiciary Committee under Peter Rodino of New Jersey eventually filed three articles of impeachment that were approved with bipartisan support.

President Nixon soon resigned because he knew what was coming.

In 1998, the issue was whether the President of the United States had lied to a Grand Jury about an extra-marital sexual encounter with a consenting adult who was his subordinate.

Judiciary Chairman Henry Hyde of the Great State of Illinois, who, as it turned out, knew a thing or two about extra-marital sexual encounters with consenting adults, passed 4 articles of impeachment along an almost exclusively party-line vote.

And an impeachment trial was held in the Senate which became an epic embarrassment to the Republican Party and to this body.

But now, given all of the evidence of electoral tampering, the apparent efforts to cover it up, the actions by the President and Attorney General to deflect or derail investigations that to me and others appear to be attempts at or actual obstruction of justice…from the Committee of jurisdiction that is supposed to be in charge and taking action, we have exactly nothing.

Not a peep. Not a hearing or a subpoena. Nada, zip, nothing. Just crickets.

Mr. Speaker, that has got to change…and I suspect it will because it simply has to. The Constitution says it has to. Judiciary Committee, it is time to act and fulfil your constitutional responsibilities.

Rep. Luis Gutiérrez is in his 13th term representing the Fourth District of Illinois. He is a Member of the Judiciary Committee and is the Chair of the Immigration Task Force of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.