Bob Goodlatte replies about President Trump

Dear Mr. Gavaler:

Thank you for contacting me about proposed congressional resolutions of inquiry asking the Department of Justice to provide the House of Representatives all records and communication as it relates to the financial practices of President Trump.  Additionally, the resolutions of inquiry seek any information relating to criminal or counterintelligence investigations targeting President Trump and his associates.

I take Congress’s role to uphold our constitutional framework of three co-equal branches of government very seriously. Congress and the American public should not and cannot allow one branch to assume too much authority without a challenge from the other branches of government. That is why the House Judiciary Committee’s oversight plan for the 115th Congress will “conduct oversight into allegations of misconduct of executive branch officials and continue to conduct oversight into allegations of leaks of classified information, as well as allegations of improper interference with our democratic institutions or efforts to improperly or illegally interfere with our election.”

While we agree it is important to maintain effective and strong oversight of the other branches of government, I do, however, oppose recent resolutions introduced by my Democratic colleagues that lack the legal force or effect to retrieve information from the Department of Justice, and only satisfy the interests of narrow constituencies. Representative Jerry Nadler of New York, one of the resolutions’ sponsors, explicitly expressed that he wanted to force Congress to have a vote on Trump. I believe Congress’s oversight efforts can do better than employing ineffectual and disruptive resolutions.

On February 28, and March 29, 2017, the House Judiciary Committee reported unfavorably H.Res. 111, H.Res. 184, and H.Res. 203.  These three resolutions of inquiry would have requested that the Attorney General provide the House of Representatives all information the Department of Justice has in its possession relating to criminal or counterintelligence investigations targeting President Trump, former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, and other White House personnel; any Trump investments involving foreign agents or governments, records of communication between Trump campaign or transition employees with the Russian government; and any record relating to the president’s Twitter postings on March 4, 2017.

Congress should, and will, investigate any credible allegations of criminal activity by the Executive Branch, but it should not do so through politically-charged resolutions of inquiry that could jeopardize the integrity of the very investigations called for by the resolutions.

You have my assurance that whichever political party occupies the White House, I will continue to uphold our Constitution and its system of three coequal branches that are accountable to the American people.

I appreciate you taking the time to contact me. I believe it is important to keep an open line of communication so I can best serve the interests of Virginia’s 6th District. I hope you will continue to be in touch as Congress debates issues of importance to the United States.


Bob Goodlatte
Member of Congress

Author: Chris Gavaler

Chris Gavaler is an assistant professor of English at Washington and Lee University where he teaches creative writing, contemporary fiction, and comics. He has published two novels, Pretend I'm Not Here (HarperCollins 2002) and School For Tricksters (Southern Methodist University 2011), and two nonfictions, On the Origin of Superheroes (Iowa University 2015) and Superhero Comics (Bloomsbury forthcoming 2017).

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