|Dean of the U.S. House|
John Conyers, Jr.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I strongly support this important resolution of inquiry.
In the days leading up to consideration of this resolution, I have had ten names on my mind:
Edward Hutchinson. Henry Smith. Charles Sandman. Charles Wiggins. David Dennis. Wiley Mayne. Delbert Latta. Trent Lott. Carlos Moorhead. Joseph Maraziti.
These men, of course, were the ten members of this Committee who, in the summer of 1974, voted against all three articles of impeachment against President Nixon.
Looking back, it seems obvious to us that these members misjudged the moment. For political or personal reasons, they refused to engage with mounting evidence that the President had violated both the law and his oath of office.
I was here, later that summer, when the Supreme Court ruled that the White House owed this Committee full and unedited copies of conversations recorded in the Oval Office.
I watched my colleagues react to the so-called “smoking gun” tape, in which the President ordered his staff to obstruct the FBI’s investigation of the Watergate break in.
I saw the looks on the faces of those ten members as they each, one after another, reversed themselves and stated their intention to support impeachment on the House floor.
For some of these men, the reversal came too late. Their initial decision to place party over duty cost them a future in politics.
The Resolution under consideration today is, of course, not as weighty a matter as a vote on articles of impeachment.
A resolution of inquiry is merely a request for information. In this case, Mr. Nadler has asked the Attorney General for information related to ongoing investigations that directly affect White House personnel. He has also asked for information about the President’s decision not to distance himself from his businesses in any meaningful way.
These matters fall directly within the jurisdiction of this Committee. It is our official responsibility to investigate them. And it is perfectly appropriate that we ask the Department of Justice for information to further that investigation.
I know that there is resistance to this proposal. Many of my colleagues do not want us to investigate President Trump or his associates.
Perhaps they are unconvinced by near-daily reports of ongoing contact between the President’s advisors and the government of Vladimir Putin.
Perhaps they agree with the President’s belief that conflict-of-interest laws do not apply to his office—although I note that this resolution makes reference to the Foreign Emoluments Clause and to nine federal statutes that clearly apply to the President and prohibit some of his current behavior.
Perhaps my colleagues simply hope these problems will go away. But they will not go away. And I believe that we have a responsibility, to our constituents and to our Constitution, to ask these questions until they are fully and satisfactorily answered.
One of the privileges of being Dean of the House is that, after he is elected, I get to administer the Oath of Office to the Speaker.
Each of us has taken that oath: to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and to faithfully discharge the duties of the office.
The resolution before us is an opportunity to be faithful to that oath—to do the jobs we were put here to do, and get to the truth of these matters at the Department of Justice.
I think about those ten names from the summer of 1974, and I wonder how history will judge us today.
I urge my colleagues to support the Nadler resolution. I thank the Chairman, and I yield back.