Goodlatte and other Republicans kill resolution of inquiry on Trump

As expected, and despite grassroots demands, Congressman Goodlatte and other members of the Republican majority on the House Judiciary Committee voted against Congressman Jerrold Nadler’s resolution of inquiry asking the Department of Justice to provide Congress with documents relating to President Trump conflicts of business interests and possible ties to Russia.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) called the resolution “unnecessary, premature” and driven by politics. Instead, he said Republican members of the committee are drafting a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions requesting his voluntary cooperation in any investigation related to Russia and Trump’s business conflicts — with Democrats encouraged to sign on.

Other Republicans were harsher.

“This is just about politics and the hyperbole is thick enough to cut with a knife,” said Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Florida freshman Republican. “In fact, what we are witnessing is that President Trump’s detractors are going through the stages of grief because Hillary Clinton lost and Donald Trump won.”

Though Republicans voted down the measure, the vote itself was a partial victory for Democrats, who forced many of the committee’s 23 Republicans into the uncomfortable position of rejecting a call for greater oversight of Trump’s potential conflicts.

After the vote, Nadler tweeted:

Tell Goodlatte to back resolution of inquiry on Trump’s business conflicts and Russia ties

The most important thing that will happen Tuesday on Capitol Hill won’t be President Trump’s address to Congress.

It will be the Goodlatte-chaired House Judiciary Committee’s consideration of Congressman Jerrold Nadler’s resolution of inquiry (H. Res. 111) that would compel the Department of Justice to provide Congress with documents relating to President Trump’s conflicts of business interests and possible ties to Russia.

According to Nadler:

Chairman Goodlatte… gave notice of an amendment in the nature of a substitute to my resolution, with wording virtually identical to H. Res. 111. That amendment only exists as a threat to cut off debate on the underlying resolution. I urge the Chairman not to break from the longstanding practice of the House Judiciary Committee, and to allow a full debate on the resolution of inquiry. If Republicans choose to block the measure, so be it.  At least we will know where they stand.

Goodlatte needs to hear from his Sixth District constituents by 10 a.m. Tuesday that they want the Judiciary Committee to approve Nadler’s resolution of inquiry. Phone his office at (202) 225-5431 or email him via his website.

You can watch the Judiciary Committee hearing starting at 10:15 a.m. Tuesday here.

Goodlatte’s committee set to block disclosure of Trump’s conflicts of interest, Russia ties

Politico reports:

House Republicans next week plan to derail a Democratic resolution that would have forced disclosure of President Donald Trump’s potential ties with Russia and any possible business conflicts of interest, according to multiple House sources.

Seeking to avoid a full House vote on the so-called “resolution of inquiry” — a roll call that would be particularly embarrassing and divisive for the right — Republicans will send proposal by Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) to the House Judiciary Committee for a panel vote on Tuesday, two Democratic sources said. The GOP-controlled committee is expected to kill the resolution.

Without committee action, obscure parliamentary procedures would allow Democrats to call the resolution to the floor for a vote by the full House. But rejection by the Judiciary panel all but assures the measure will never see a floor vote.

“Unless the resolution is reported by the committee within 14 legislative days, either favorably, unfavorably or without recommendation, then it can be brought up on the House floor immediately thereafter, so the committee plans to address this resolution next week,” said one House Judiciary Committee aide in a statement.

Resolutions of inquiry are rare in Congress and privileged, meaning lawmakers can circumvent leadership and force action on the floor if they’re ignored for 14 legislative days.

The resolutions can force presidents and agencies to give Congress private records. Nadler’s, for example, demands that Attorney General Jeff Sessions hand over to the Hill “any document, record, memo, correspondence or other communication” pertaining to “criminal or counterintelligence investigations” related to Trump, White House staff or his business.

Democrats have blasted Trump for failing to make a clean break from his real estate empire, accusing him of being vulnerable to conflicts of interest. They also are suspicious of his campaign’s relationship with Russia. U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that top Russian officials orchestrated interference into the 2016 presidential election on Trump’s behalf.

The House Judiciary Committee is chaired by Bob Goodlatte, who has ignored requests by committee Democrats to schedule hearings on Trump’s conflicts of interest. If Goodlatte and the other Republicans on the Judiciary Committee vote to block the disclosure to Congress of information on Trump’s conflicts of interest and his campaign’s connections with Russian officials, all their claims to be interested in getting to the truth about these matters will be exposed for the shams they are.

Still dodging constituents, Goodlatte acts as Trump’s go-between in India

As people in Waynesboro and throughout the Sixth District ask “Where’s Bob?” Congressman Goodlatte traveled to India this week with other members of the House Judiciary Committee.

In principle there is nothing wrong with members of Congress visiting other countries. But they should do so with a modicum of independence, and not just as an emissary for the president.

Before meeting [Prime Minister Narendra Modi], …Goodlatte declined to answer a question on visa restrictions, saying it was up to President Trump to reassess his policies on immigration.

Goodlatte also said the U.S. president had been a businessman, “And he likes to do deals and he also wants to do deals with India and other countries around the world.”

That’s nice. But what do you think, Congressman?

Conservative columnist calls out Goodlatte for “toadyism”

Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin is one of a handful of conservatives who have tracked the first weeks of the Trump administration in undisguised horror.

Her displeasure extends to the hypocrisy of Trump-supporting Republicans in Congress– including the representative from the Sixth District of Virginia.

One can only marvel at the toadyism of House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) — who previously recommended gutting the ethics office — in demanding a full-scale investigation by the Justice Department inspector general into leaks but resolutely resisting any investigation into President Trump’s breached hotel lease, his conflicts of interest, his ties with Russia and his recent receipt of a trademark from China — just after reaffirming the One China policy — which is indisputably an “emolument” from a foreign government.

Democratic members of the Judiciary Committee have asked twice for Goodlatte to schedule hearings on Trump’s conflicts of interest– to no avail. If he ever shows his face in public to his Sixth District constituents (not just a selected group), maybe we could ask him about it.

Watch for Goodlatte (updated)

wheres-bobSince the House of Representatives is off next week for “district work,” Congressman Goodlatte may actually be out and about in the Sixth District. Not that he is likely to make his presence anywhere widely known in advance.

If you spot Goodlatte, or learn of his whereabouts, please report it in the comments below.

(Hat tip: Chris Gavaler)

Update: Unless you’ll be in India next week, never mind. Indian media report that Goodlatte will lead a bipartisan Congressional delegation of eight lawmakers visiting New Delhi and Bangalore from February 20 to 23. No mention of the visit on his website, and it’s about as far from the Sixth District as you can get.

There’s nothing wrong in principle with members of Congress visiting foreign countries. But maybe an Indian reader of Goodlatte Watch (there is at least one) can ask him when he will hold an in-person town hall meeting in Roanoke, Staunton or Front Royal.

Goodlatte and Ryan barred Hispanics in Congress from meeting with ICE director

Congressman Luis V. Gutiérrez of Illinois on Thursday issued a statement after he, fellow members of the Hispanic Caucus and other members of Congress were excluded from a meeting with Acting Director Thomas Homan of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at the request of Congressman Goodlatte and Speaker Ryan:

In 20-plus years, I have never heard of the Republicans controlling what meetings Democrats can have with officials of the Executive Branch and never had a staffer ask me to leave a meeting to which I am entitled to attend.  My constituents have questions about who is being targeted by ICE, which DREAMers with DACA they are targeting for deportation, which victims of domestic violence ICE is deporting, which immigrants at church shelters are being targeted.  We know the statements by Trump about targeting criminals is a lie, but we were hoping someone could give us the truth or any information at all.  

The new mass deportation executive orders are unprecedented, but so are the lengths to which the Speaker and Chairman Goodlatte are going to control the information being disseminated to Members of Congress.  I expect such dictatorial shenanigans from the Trump Administration, but not from competent, compassionate legislators like Speaker Ryan or from legislators like Bob Goodlatte.  Do they have ear pieces feeding them orders from President Bannon or the others making decisions in the White House?  

Speaker Ryan is not an emperor and does not control who I meet with.  My colleagues and I asked for this meeting and we still have not been given details by ICE about who they are deporting, why, and how.  We simply have hit a stone wall and now Republicans in the House are cooperating in limiting the information that we can provide to our constituents.


“Town hall” update

With no advance warning, Congressman Goodlatte Thursday evening notified people who had signed up online that he was holding a “telephone town hall.”

If anyone wanted to participate, they had to drop whatever they were doing or had planned for the evening.

Ellen Mayock of Lexington posted on her blog:

People all over the United States, including those of us in Virginia’s 6th District (for the U.S. Congress), are usually quite busy at 6:49pm.  There are dinners to make, the elderly to look in on, children to get to activities and to feed, bathe, and get to bed.   Some of us are still at work or headed out to work.  That’s why many of us did not receive Congressman Bob Goodlatte’s automated invitation to his “telephone town hall meeting” until well into the call, which began at 7:00pm, eleven minutes after the message was left.  Here’s the message Goodlatte left:

“Hi.  This is Congressman Bob Goodlatte.  It’s Thursday evening and I was calling to invite you to participate in a live, telephone town meeting to hear from you about issues before Congress.  I regret that I missed you.  If the call is still in progress, you can join by calling {#}.  Otherwise, if I may be of assistance to you, please contact my Roanoke office at {#} or my Lynchburg office at {#}.  Also, if you’d like to receive important updates from my office, I encourage you to sign up to receive. {message cuts off}.”


By the time I called in, I had missed about the first 17 minutes of the conversation.  It turns out, though, that 43 minutes of insensitive responses to individuals genuinely concerned about social security benefits, Medicare cuts, the proposed decimation of the Environmental Protection Agency, and the executive branch’s dangerous cover-up of its multiple links to Russia and cybersecurity threats was plenty of time.  In fact, Congressman Goodlatte uses the telephone to good advantage.  He tightly controls the medium by accepting a limited number of calls, reading from pre-packaged GOP scripts, and channeling all potentially troublesome questions into reassurances about how he is taking care of the safety and security of good United States citizens.  It becomes rather easy for listeners on the call to guess who are the bad U.S. citizens.

Katie Webb Cyphert of Lynchburg provided the following summary of what she heard during the so-called town hall:

1. A woman was asking about Obamacare and how a repeal would be terrible for low-income folks. Goodlatte talked about Medical Savings Accounts and how all the Obamacare stuff (keep your plan, keep your doctor) had been proven false.

2. A caller said she prays for the elected officials and wonders why folks won’t give Trump a chance. Goodlatte agreed and thanked her for the prayers.

3. A man said he’s known Bob Goodlatte since his first election, but that the last several years Goodlatte has become a lapdog and is backing policies that are contrary to our American values.

4. A poll was conducted on whether sanctuary cities should still get federal dollars. I didn’t catch the results for Yes and No, but 46% said not sure.

5. A man asked when they’re going to raise the minimum wage. Goodlatte said that the state can do so and to call state representatives.

6. A man said he got a Social Security increase of 31 cents per month but his electric bill is $610. How are people supposed to make ends meet? Goodlatte said that the new health plan would lower costs for Medicare participants.

6. A woman asked about the ACA Repeal and how it would affect those currently on Social Security and Medicare, for which they’ve paid. Goodlatte said a consumer-driven plan with medical savings accounts would help.

7. A woman called and read her email (to which she hadn’t received a response) about Flynn, Conway, and investigations. Goodlatte said he’s in favor of investigating the Russian discussions and leaks.

8. Another poll question on whether countries like Iran and North Korea pose a threat to the US. Results were 80% yes, to which Goodlatte said that’s why we need the temporary stricter travel vetting.

9. A man invited Goodlatte to the Town Hall on Wednesday at 4:30 in Vinton and then said not to mess up Social Security and Medicare. Goodlatte said he can’t attend Wednesday.

Meanwhile The Roanoke Times reported Thursday:

Sixth District Rep. Bob Goodlatte has declined an invitation to appear at a town hall meeting organized by a local grass-roots organization demanding a meeting with him next week.

Goodlatte, R-Roanoke County, was holding a scheduled telephone town hall with constituents Thursday evening, his spokeswoman, Beth Breeding, said. “Congressman Goodlatte’s staff notified the group earlier today that he is unable to attend,” Breeding said in an email Thursday.

Roanoke Indivisible, a local chapter of the national progressive organization Indivisible that has sprung to life in the wake of Donald Trump’s presidency, announced via Facebook a “People’s Town Hall for Bob Goodlatte” at 4:30 p.m. Feb. 22 at the Charles R. Hill Senior Center in Vinton.

Under pressure, Goodlatte promises “telephone town halls”

After demonstrations across the Sixth District and a flood of constituent email and phone requests for Congressman Goodlatte to hold face-to-face town hall meetings, he has responded by… promising to hold more “telephone town halls.”

He even added a page to his Congressional website for people who want to sign up for them.

But Goodlatte has carefully avoided promising any actual face-time at meetings open to everyone in the district. (In fact he has not held such a meeting since 2013.)  And “telephone town halls” are a poor means for communication between a legislator and the people he is supposed to represent. Phil Stump, a retired Lynchburg College professor and Indivisible Lynchburg organizer, explained the problem in an article in the Lynchburg News & Advance:

“I tried to participate in one of the call-in town halls in the past that [Goodlatte] had, and it was hopelessly frustrating. I just gave up after a while,” Stump said. The format allowed aides to screen callers and did not allow for the “possibility for interchange” with Goodlatte or other constituents, Stump said.