Conyers statement starts @ 31:10
|Dean of the U.S. House|
John Conyers, Jr.
It is the responsibility of this Committee to conduct oversight of the Office of the Attorney General, and to ensure the independence and integrity of the Department of Justice.
Despite protests that this resolution is somehow not yet ripe, H. Res. 184 (below) is the proper next step in exercising those responsibilities.
Since the Attorney General took office, my colleagues and I have written to the Department at least six times.
We have asked for information about conflicts of interest, the Russia investigation, and reports of inappropriate contact between the White House and the FBI. To date, we have received no response.
We have also written to you, Mr. Chairman, on two occasions, about related matters. We have received no response there, either.
At our February markup of the Nadler resolution, both Chairman Goodlatte and Mr. Issa spoke at length about a letter they planned to send the Attorney General. It was described as the “proper” way to conduct oversight. We were promised an opportunity to join.
But no letter to the Attorney General was ever sent. Instead, the Majority wrote to the FBI, asking for a member briefing that still has not taken place. We did not learn of the letter until we read about it in the press.
Our responsibility to this Committee requires more of us, Mr. Chairman. H. Res. 184 is an opportunity to correct course and do our jobs.
The resolution is also a chance to answer questions about the Attorney General’s false statements before the Senate.
H. Res. 184 asks for information about the Attorney General’s meetings with Russian officials, his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and his later “clarification” of that testimony.
This information is critical to understanding why Attorney General Sessions twice gave false testimony, and whether his attempt to correct that false testimony is adequate.
I find it hard to believe that Attorney General Sessions—at the time, a sitting senator, and an active member of the Trump campaign—was unaware of reports about the campaign’s connections to the Russian government until he was asked about it in the committee room.
I find it equally hard to understand why Attorney General Sessions, in “correcting” his testimony, disclosed two meetings with the Russian ambassador—but not to a third that is clearly documented in the public record.
Again, it is this Committee’s responsibility to ask these questions. We cannot and should not turn a blind eye to false testimony and an obviously incomplete record.
H. Res. 184 is the right vehicle to begin that inquiry here in our Committee.
Finally, this resolution helps us address a larger problem—one that seems to sweep in more people in the President’s orbit every day.
Why have so many of these men—each of them a part of the Trump campaign—met with the Russian government?
And, perhaps more importantly, why have so many of these men attempted to hide those meetings from the public?
To a character, it seems, they have only come clean when the media has exposed their deception.
I am deeply disturbed by this pattern, and what it might mean for our country.
In my time on this Committee, Mr. Chairman, I have come to understand that certain values transcend party.
These include: faith in democracy, love of country, and respect for the republican form of government guaranteed to us by our Constitution.
These values are under attack—not just here, but around the world—by a regime that believes only that might makes right.
We know that the government of Russia undermined our election. We know that they want to undermine the elections of our allies.
And, given what we know, it is incumbent on us to do something about it.
Here is our chance to begin that work in earnest.
I thank Mr. Jeffries and Mr. Lieu for introducing this resolution.
I urge my colleagues to support H. Res. 184, and I yield back.