Email #87, Subject: “unnecessary, premature”?

I was pleased to read that you will be writing a letter to the department of Justice this week requesting a briefing on Russian interference in the election and any ties to the Trump campaign. Please publish that letter on your website, because I would very much like to read it in full.

I am confused though why you voted against a similar resolution of inquiry in the House Judiciary Committee. You called the resolution “unnecessary” and “premature.” Those are odd adjectives given that members of your committee have been requesting this information from the White House since December. Why are you only now writing to the DoJ? If the defeated resolution triggered this minimal action, then it was both necessary and overdue.

I was pleased that you said the committee “can and will investigate any credible allegation of misconduct by the administration.” It is not clear, however, how you are defining “credible” and why an “allegation” is necessary. I believe the resolution of inquiry included a request for the President’s tax records. Such a request is not an allegation of misconduct. In order to assess whether the President has any conflicts of interests, the House needs those records. And given his decades of business dealings, the President must have numerous conflicts. The only issue is identifying them.

Yet you said the resolution was “not the best way for the House to conduct oversight.” How exactly then can the House conduct its oversight without these tax records? As you have said repeatedly, the Constitution’s three-branch requires you to oversee the executive branch. Without the President’s tax records—a tool so basic that all previous Congresses have received it without comment or incident—how will you as chair of the House Judiciary Committee fulfill your Constitutional obligations?

If your letter to Attorney General Sessions results in the President finally fulfilling his campaign promise to release his taxes, then I will applaud your approach. If, however, the President continues to break his promise and continues to prevents Congress from fulfilling its Constitutional duty to oversee the executive branch, will you then submit your own resolution of inquiry?

I don’t care how the taxes are released. If your approach gets the job done, then you have my support and thanks. But your constituents need to know what steps you will take and when you will take them. If your letter produces no results and you do nothing else, then you risk appearing like a puppet of the executive branch.

That would be a sad way to end your final term in Congress.

Author: Chris Gavaler

Chris Gavaler is an associate professor at W&L University, comics editor of Shenandoah, and series editor of Bloomsbury Critical Guides in Comics Studies. He has published two novels: School for Tricksters (SMU 2011) and Pretend I’m Not Here (HarperCollins 2002); and six books of scholarship: On the Origin of Superheroes (Iowa 2015), Superhero Comics (Bloomsbury 2017), Superhero Thought Experiments (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Iowa 2019), Revising Fiction, Fact, and Faith (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Routledge 2020), Creating Comics (with Leigh Ann Beavers, Bloomsbury 2021), and The Comics Form (Bloomsbury forthcoming). His visual work appears in Ilanot Review, North American Review, Aquifer, and other journals.

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