House GOP rejects Dem effort for info on Trump-Russia probes

AP News
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Posted: Feb 28, 2017 7:12 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Republicans have rejected a Democratic effort to require the Justice Department to provide Congress with information about President Donald Trump's finances and possible campaign ties to Russia.

The GOP-led Judiciary Committee on Tuesday defeated the resolution on a party-line vote of 18-16. Republicans said it would be premature and duplicative of their own efforts on the matter.

The committee vote came a day after the full, Republican-led House blocked an attempt by Democrats to force Trump to release his tax returns to Congress.

The resolution of inquiry, introduced by Rep. Jerold Nadler, D-N.Y., would have sought information related to an investigation on Trump's ties to Russia and potential financial conflicts of interest, but wouldn't have forced the Justice Department to turn any of those documents over.

Federal investigators for months have been looking into contacts between Trump advisers and Russia, along with Russia's role in political hacking during the campaign aimed at Democrats.

Nadler said the motion was especially important because Attorney General Jeff Sessions was one of Trump's biggest campaign supporters and has so far not recused himself from investigations into the president. Nadler said it would also allow Congress to preserve the documents.

"Between Mr. Trump's potential conflicts of interest, and the potential coordination with a foreign power to interfere with our elections, and with our government, the security and integrity of our nation are at stake," Nadler said.

Republicans said the effort wasn't necessary and wouldn't be any more effective than writing a letter to the department. Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., said he would send a letter this week requesting a briefing from the department regarding any Russian interference in the U.S. election and any potential ties to Trump's campaign.

"I believe this resolution is unnecessary, premature and not the best way for the House to conduct oversight," Goodlatte said. He said the committee "can and will investigate any credible allegation of misconduct by the administration."

Only a handful of Republicans spoke out in opposition before the vote. One who did was newly elected Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, who said Trump's detractors were still grieving after the election.

"Democrats need to get over it," Gaetz said. "The people have spoken. This is the time for acceptance."