Wednesday, November 30, 2016


House Judiciary Democrats Release CRS Memo Outlining Ethics Provisions Applicable to the President

Washington, DC – After President-elect Donald Trump’s vague announcement this morning to leave his “…great business in total...,” all sixteen Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee wrote today to Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) to request that the Committee hold hearings to examine the federal conflicts-of-interest and ethics provisions that may apply to the President of the United States.

In their letter, the Members wrote, “Although we do not yet know the details of his proposal, this announcement raises a number of questions, including whether Mr. Trump intends to legally transfer ownership of his assets to his children, or simply allow them to manage his assets; the extent his children will continue to be involved in his Administration and whether they will be subject to an “ethics firewall;” whether businesses, foreign governments, and others will continue to able to take actions that benefit Mr. Trump and his family; and what level if any of transparency in these matters Mr. Trump will provide.”

Previously, Mr. Trump claimed that “the president can’t have a conflict of interest.”  However, at the request of Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr., the Congressional Research Service (CRS), a non-partisan legislative agency operating out of the Library of Congress, has prepared a list of federal ethics and conflict-of-interest rules that may and should apply to Mr. Trump when he assumes office. This list includes four criminal statutes and the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution.  In their letter, the Members cite these rules as a cause for concern.

The letter was signed by every Democratic member of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, including: Representatives John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Hank Johnson (D-GA), Pedro Pierluisi (D-Res.Comm.- PR), Judy Chu (D-CA), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), Karen Bass (D-CA), Cedric Richmond (D-LA), Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), David Cicilline (D-RI), and Scott Peters (D-CA).

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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

CONYERS & JACKSON LEE Applaud More Than 1,000 Historic Presidential Communtations

Washington, D.C. - House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) and House Judiciary Crime Subcommittee Ranking Member Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) released the following statements after the White House announced the commutation of the sentences of 79 individuals:

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
“The President’s power to commute sentences, as established by the Constitution, was recognized by the founders as critical to the administration of justice,” said Ranking Member Conyers. “President Obama builds on his legacy with his continued effort to commute sentences in appropriate cases. I commend him for showing compassion for those who deserve to have their sentences abbreviated. It is fair and just.”

“I commend President Obama’s commutation of sentences of 79 individuals, and well over 1,000 thus far – who were all victims of unjust sentencing,” said Crime Subcommittee Ranking Member Jackson Lee.  “Nearly all of these men and women would have been released and contributing back to society already had they been convicted under today’s laws or reform proposals. I welcome and applaud the commutations of the sentences of these individuals.  Incarcerating people for unwarranted lengths of time serves no constructive purpose.  The President has recognized this, as has Attorney General Loretta Lynch, and I am pleased that the Administration’s Clemency Project continues to address the multitude of cases in which sentence reductions are appropriate.  Of course, the need to engage in such a broad review of sentences exists largely because our sentencing laws and policies, particularly for drug offenses, urgently need to be changed.  We need to eliminate mandatory minimum sentencing and let judges impose appropriate sentences based on the facts and circumstances of each case, and we should eliminate the higher penalties for crack cocaine relative to powder cocaine offenses.  I am heartened that there is a growing, bipartisan recognition of the problem of over incarceration and I hope this will lead to sentencing reform this Congress.”

Congressman Conyers and Congresswoman Jackson Lee are cosponsors of the Sentencing Reform Act of 2015, which is the first bill that is a result of the House Judiciary Committee’scriminal justice reform initiative.  The Sentencing Reform Act of 2015 reduces certain mandatory minimums for drug offenses, reduces the three-strike mandatory life sentence to 25 years, broadens the existing safety valve for low-level drug offenders, and provides judges with greater discretion in determining appropriate sentences.  

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Policing Strategies Working Group Visits Atlanta

Washington, D.C. – Members of the bipartisan Policing Strategies Working Group traveled to Atlanta, Georgia on November 17-18, 2016 to meet with local community leaders and law enforcement to discuss police accountability, aggression towards law enforcement, and public safety concerns related to these issues. Members who traveled to Atlanta are House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Ranking Member John Conyers (D-Mich.), Representative Doug Collins (R-Ga.), Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), Representative David Reichert (R-Wa.), and Representative Hank Johnson (D-Ga.)

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
Ranking Member Conyers and Chairman Goodlatte made the following statement on the trip to Atlanta: “Members of the Policing Strategies Working Group had a productive trip to Atlanta. We heard from local law enforcement and community leaders on how they’ve addressed the challenges of the use of excessive force by police and attacks on police, as well as what issues remain. Tragically during our time in Atlanta, Deputy Commander Pat Carothers of the U.S. Marshals Service was killed in the line of duty while serving a warrant to a fugitive in Georgia. We are saddened by this loss of life in the law enforcement community and stand shoulder to shoulder with them. We are reminded that law enforcement officers face danger every day while on duty and remain committed to finding solutions to these and other issues.”

Congressman Doug Collins, who helped coordinate the visit, said the following: “As a lifelong Georgian, I was proud to have the Policing Strategies Working Group visit Atlanta to learn some of the best practices our city and state have in place. Over the course of the trip, we had the privilege of hearing from law enforcement and community leaders and gathered information that will drive forward the conversation on policing and communities.”

Below are five pictures from the trip.

On Thursday, November 17, Emory University School of Law hosted a reception for Members of Congress, local law enforcement, and community leaders.

Congressional delegation with reception guests.

On Friday, November 18, the Members of Congress toured the United States Penitentiary (USP), Atlanta – a medium security federal prison housing over 2,200 inmates. During the tour, Warden Darlene Drew explained USP Atlanta’s reentry services for federal inmates, including those with serious mental illness.

Congressional delegation with Bureau of Prisons staff outside of USP Atlanta.

Following the prison tour, the Members participated in a law enforcement simulator at Georgia State University College of Law. During the simulator, members faced tense situations and had to determine whether or not to use force. 

Afterwards, the Members held a private roundtable with Atlanta Police Chief George Turner, Deputy Chief of Police Joseph Spillane, U.S. Attorney John Horn, Apostle Roderick Hughey of The Community Church of Gainesville, Georgia State University College of Law Associate Professor Nirej Sekhon, and Morehouse College Student Body President Johnathan Hill. Members discussed the challenges law enforcement faces and mistrust among the law enforcement and African-American community.

Group photo before the start of the roundtable.

Johnathan Hill addresses the roundtable.

Following the roundtable, the members held a press conference. Watch the press conference on the Majority’s Facebook page.

Rep. Collins gives remarks to the press.

Background on the Working Group: In July 2016, Chairman Bob Goodlatte and Ranking Member John Conyers announced the establishment of a working group to examine police accountability, aggression towards law enforcement, and public safety concerns related to these issues. The bipartisan working group is in the process of holding a series of roundtables to candidly discuss the issues fueling excessive force used by law enforcement and attacks against police officers. Read Chairman Goodlatte and Ranking Member Conyers’ op-ed on the working group in The Hill here.

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Saturday, November 19, 2016

Members of the bipartisan Policing Strategies Working Group held a meeting with local community leaders and law enforcement in Atlanta, GA

Police accountability, aggression towards law enforcement, and public safety concerns. Members of the bipartisan Policing Strategies Working Group held a meeting with local community leaders and law enforcement in Atlanta, GA to discuss this and more.

Members of Congress
·         House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.)
·         Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.)
·         Representative Doug Collins (R-Ga.)
·         Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas)
·         Representative David Reichert (R-Wa.)
·         Representative Hank Johnson (D-Ga.)

Roundtable Participants
·         George Turner, Chief of Police, Atlanta Police Department
·         John Horn, United States Attorney, Northern District of Georgia
·         Joseph P. Spillane, Chief of Police, Georgia State University
·         Roderick Hughey, Sr., Pastor, Voices of Faith North
·         Nirej Sekhon, Associate Professor of Law, Georgia State University – College of Law
·         Johnathan Hill, Student Body President, Morehouse University

Learn more: BEVERLY TRAN: Media Advisory: Policing Strategies Working Group to Visit Atlanta & Hold Press Conference
Stop Medicaid Fraud in Child Welfare 

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Thursday, November 17, 2016

Bipartisan, bicameral bill would delay changes to government hacking powers

File:Seal of the United States Congress.svg

Proposed Amendments to Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure would expand the government’s ability to search Americans’ computers and other digital devices
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), and Al Franken (D-Minn.), together with Reps. John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) and Ted Poe (R-Texas), introduced legislation to provide Congress the time necessary to seriously consider and debate the proposed changes to Rule 41 that would expand the government's ability to search computers and other digital devices. The Review the Rule Actwould delay the proposed changes to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 41 from going into force until July 1, 2017. Without congressional action, the proposed changes will go into effect on December 1, 2016.

Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 41 governs the procedures and parameters for issuing search warrants.  Under current law, a federal judge may issue a warrant to search property located within a specific judicial district.  At the urging of the Department of Justice, the Supreme Court ultimately approved two sweeping amendments to Rule 41:

1.       A judge may issue a warrant to remotely search, copy, and seize information from a device that does not have a known location (and may not be in the district) because the location has been concealed through technological means; and
2.       A single judge may issue a warrant to remotely search and copy information from suspected devices across five or more districts.
Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
“I remain deeply concerned about the intended and unintended consequences of the expanded authorities contemplated in the proposed changes to Rule 41,” said John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member. “The bill we offer today will delay implementation until Congress has had a meaningful opportunity to examine the proposal in detail.  Until we have adequately addressed the privacy concerns raised by my colleagues, this rule change should not take effect.”     

“The proposed changes are serious, and present significant privacy concerns that warrant careful consideration and debate,” said Senator Coons, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “Our bicameral, bipartisan legislation will give Congress time to do our job and carefully consider and evaluate the merits of these proposed changes to the government’s ability to search personal computers and other digital devices. It is essential that these rules strike a careful balance: giving law enforcement the tools it needs to keep us safe, while also protecting Americans’ constitutional rights to privacy and freedom from unreasonable searches.”

“We cannot give the federal government a blank check to infringe on Americans’ civil liberties,” said Senator Daines.“Congress needs the appropriate time to investigate the implications of this rule on Americans’ Fourth Amendment rights.”

“A single prosecutor should not have the power to hack into the phone or computer of virtually anyone in the United States,” said Senator Lee, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “Yes, federal law enforcement does need new tools to stop and prosecute botnets, but the proposed Rule 41 rule change goes too far. The sensible thing to do is delay the implementation of this rule and allow Congress to investigate further."

“This rule change would give the government unprecedented power to hack into Americans’ personal devices,”Senator Wyden said. “This was an alarming proposition before the election. Today, Congress needs to think long and hard about whether to hand this power to James Comey and the administration of someone who openly said he wants the power to hack his political opponents the same way Russia does.”      

“Government does not have the authority to unilaterally legalize widespread abusive hacking,” said Rep. Poe.  “It is Congress’ responsibility to safeguard the constitutional rights of the people they represent from a power hungry Executive Branch. A delay in the proposed changes to Rule 41 is necessary to ensure that the newly elected Congress, and Administration, have the ability to carefully evaluate this rule change before it goes into effect to ensure that it is constitutional and in the best interests of the American people. Rushing to put the changes in place in the middle of the lame duck session is irresponsible. Too much is at stake to not get this right.”

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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

CONYERS Calls For The Removal Of Two More Right-Wing Extremists On Trump's Staff

Washington, DC – President-elect Donald Trump has made two more troubling additions to his transition team.  Frank Gaffney, founder of the hard-right Center for Security Policy, has spent two decades advancing conspiracy theories and anti-Muslim rhetoric. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is the chief architect of anti-immigrant measures in several states, including Arizona’s controversial and unconstitutional “show me your papers” bill. 

House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) released the following statement:

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
“The president-elect continues to staff his transition team with individuals whose views pose a direct threat to our core American values.

“Frank Gaffney is a conspiracy theorist.  From his perch at an extremist think tank, Mr. Gaffney spent both the Bush and Obama years complaining about the infiltration of the government by the ‘radical left and its Islamist allies.’  He has targeted both conservative and progressive activists, sitting members of Congress, the UN Secretary General, and the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.  He often speaks about the wholly unsubstantiated theory that parts of Europe and the United States have become ‘no-go zones’ for non-Muslims.  His views are so extreme that he was barred from participation in the Conservative Political Action Conference—but apparently he is not too extreme for President-elect Trump.

“According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Kris Kobach, has ties to white nationalist and nativist movements. He is the primary author of the hardline Arizona immigration law that was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2012.  Mr. Kobach helped former Attorney General John Ashcroft create a controversial registration system for Muslim immigrants and has indicated his intention to revive this program—a proposal that flies in the face of the constitution and is a threat to the civil liberties of all Americans. 

“To give President-elect Trump the benefit of the doubt, I recommend he  remove these individuals from his staff, and lead our country away from these bigoted, small-minded policies—before it’s too late.”

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CONYERS Joins Cicilline & More Than 165 Reps Asking President-elect Trump To Reverse Bannon Appointment

WASHINGTON– Today, House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) joined 169 members of the U.S. House, led by Congressman David N. Cicilline (D-RI), in sending a letter asking President-elect Donald Trump to rescind alt-right leader Steve Bannon’s appointment as White House Chief Strategist. Although Republican members of the House were invited to sign Cicilline’s letter, none did so. 

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
Yesterday, Ranking Member Conyers released the following statement on Bannon’s appointment:

The letter was signed by the following Members of Congress: 

David N. Cicilline (RI-1)
Alma Adams (NC-12)
Pete Aguilar (CA-31)
Karen Bass (CA-37)
Joyce Beatty (OH-3)
Xavier Becerra (CA-34)
Ami Bera (CA-7)
Donald Beyer (VA-8)
Sanford Bishop (GA-2)
Earl Blumenauer (OR-3)
Suzanne Bonamici (OR-1)
Madeleine Bordallo (Guam)
Brendan Boyle (PA-13)
Robert Brady (PA-1)
Julia Brownley (CA-26)
Cheri Bustos (IL-17)
G.K. Butterfield (NC-1)
Michael Capuano (MA-7)
Tony Cardenas (CA-29)
John Carney (DE-At large)
Andre Carson (IN-7)
Matt Cartwright (PA-17)
Kathy Castor (FL-14)
Joaquin Castro (TX-20)
Judy Chu (CA-27)
Katherine Clark (MA-5)
Yvette Clarke (NY-9)
William Lacy Clay (MO-1)
Emanuel Cleaver (MO-5)
James Clyburn (SC-6)
Steve Cohen (TN-9)
Gerald Connolly (VA-11)
John Conyers (MI-13)
Jim Cooper (TN-5)
Joe Courtney (CT-2)
Joseph Crowley (NY-14)
Elijah Cummings (MD-7)
Danny Davis (IL-7)
Susan Davis (CA-53)
Peter DeFazio (OR-4)
Diana DeGette (CO-1)
John Delaney (MD-6)
Rosa DeLauro (CT-3)
Suzan DelBene (WA-1)
Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11)
Ted Deutch (FL-21)
Debbie Dingell (MI-12)
Lloyd Doggett (TX-35)
Michael Doyle (PA-14)
Tammy Duckworth (IL-8)
Donna Edwards (MD-4)
Keith Ellison (MN-5)
Eliot Engel (NY-16)
Anna Eshoo (CA-18)
Elizabeth Esty (CT-5)
Dwight Evans (PA-2)
Sam Farr (CA-20)
Bill Foster (IL-11)
Lois Frankel (FL-22)
Marcia Fudge (OH-11)
Ruben Gallego (AZ-7)
John Garamendi (CA-3)
Gwen Graham (FL-2)
Al Green (TX-9)
Gene Green (TX-29)
Raul Grijalva (AZ-3)
Luis Gutierrez (IL-4)
Janice Hahn (CA-44)
Colleen Hanabusa (HI-1)
Alcee Hastings (FL-20)
Denny Heck (WA-10)
Brian Higgins (NY-26)
James Himes (CT-4)
Ruben Hinojosa (TX-15)
Michael Honda (CA-17)
Jared Huffman (CA-2)
Steve Israel (NY-3)
Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18)
Hakeem Jeffries (NY-8)
Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30)
Hank Johnson  (GA-4)
Marcy Kaptur (OH-9)
William Keating (MA-9)
Robin Kelly (IL-2)
Joseph Kennedy (MA-4)
Dan Kildee (MI-5)
Derek Kilmer (WA-6)
Ron Kind (WI-3)
Ann Marie Kuster (NH-2)
James Langevin (RI-2)
Rick Larsen (WA-2)
John Larson (CT-1)
Brenda Lawrence (MI-14)
Barbara Lee (CA-13)
Sander Levin (MI-9)
John Lewis (GA-5)
Ted Lieu (CA-33)
Dave Loebsack (IA-2)
Zoe Lofgren (CA-19)
Alan Lowenthal (CA-47)
Nita Lowey (NY-17)
Ben Ray Lujan (NM-3)
Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM-1)
Stephen Lynch (MA-8)
Carolyn Maloney (NY-12)
Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18)
Doris Matsui (CA-6)
Betty McCollum (MN-4)
Jim McDermott (WA-7)
James McGovern (MA-2)
Jerry McNerney (CA-9)
Gregory Meeks (NY-5)
Grace Meng (NY-6)
Gwen Moore (WI-4)
Seth Moulton (MA-6)
Patrick Murphy (FL-18)
Jerrold Nadler (NY-10)
Grace Napolitano (CA-32)
Richard Neal (MA-1)
Richard Nolan (MN-8)
Donald Norcross (NJ-1)
Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC)
Beto O'Rourke (TX-16)
Frank Pallone (NJ-6)
Bill Pascrell (NJ-9)
Donald Payne Jr. (NJ-10)
Ed Perlmutter (CO-7)
Scott Peters (CA-52)
Chellie Pingree (ME-1)
Mark Pocan (WI-2)
Jared Polis (CO-2)
David Price (NC-4)
Mike Quigley (IL-5)
Kathleen Rice (NY-4)
Cedric Richmond (LA-2)
Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40)
Raul Ruiz (CA-36)
Tim Ryan (OH-13)
Linda Sanchez (CA-38)
John Sarbanes (MD-3)
Jan Schakowsky (IL-9)
Adam Schiff (CA-28)
Kurt Schrader (OR-5)
Bobby Scott (VA-3)
Jose Serrano (NY-15)
Terri Sewell (AL-7)
Albio Sires (NJ-8)
Louise McIntosh Slaughter (NY-25)
Adam Smith (WA-9)
Jackie Speier (CA-14)
Eric Swalwell (CA-15)
Mark Takano (CA-41)
Bennie Thompson (MS-2)
Mike Thompson (CA-5)
Dina Titus (NV-1)
Paul Tonko (NY-20)
Norma Torres (CA-35)
Niki Tsongas (MA-3)
Chris Van Hollen (MD-8)
Juan Vargas (CA-51)
Marc Veasey (TX-33)
Nydia Velazquez (NY-7)
Timothy Walz (MN-1)
Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23)
Maxine Waters (CA-43)
Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12)
Peter Welch (VT-At large)
Frederica Wilson (FL-24)

John Yarmuth (KY-3)

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