Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) tried unsuccessfully Tuesday to hijack a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Silicon Valley firms’ censoring conservative political speech on the internet and turn it instead into a bash-in on President Donald Trump’s Russian election meddling comments.
“If we don’t take action, the American people might not trust the next election,” Nadler said in his opening comments. “Instead of taking action in this committee, instead of refuting the president with information you and I both read, Mr. Chairman, we spend six more hours questioning Lisa Page about Cheryl Mills’ laptop and Hillary Clinton’s email.”
Nadler, the judicial panel’s highest-ranking Democrat, and other Democrats argued that instead of discussing the importance of protecting the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of speech, the committee should instead talk about Russia’s election meddling and Trump’s alleged dismissal of those concerns during a news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“This is a national emergency, and our silence is unacceptable. Our nation is under attack,” Nadler said. “I move that the committee goes onto executive session for the purposes of discussing the evidence in our possession that speaks directly to the special counsel indictments and the president’s apparent submission to the Russian government.”
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) allowed the motion to move onto a vote, which failed 10 to 12 on a straight party-line vote. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) interrupted the vote to ask whether Nadler was recognized to bring up a motion. Goodlatte noted his concern but allowed the vote to continue anyway.
“Mr. Chairman, a point of order,” Issa said. “Did you recognize him for a motion or did you recognize him for an opening statement?”
Trump has been highly criticized for dismissing the findings of the intelligence community on Monday after meeting with Putin in Helsinki, Finland. But Trump said Tuesday he did not intend to say he rejects the findings but rather that he supports the U.S. intelligence community.
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Nadler isn’t alone with many other Democrats in expressing concern that the hearing is a distraction from the more important issues. Democrats echoed those comments during a series of hearings involving FBI agent Peter Strzok and former FBI lawyer Lisa Page in recent weeks.
Strzok and Page drew the attention of a congressional investigation for exchanging thousands of text messages that showed a deep and bitter disdain for Trump.
The House Judiciary Committee and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee launched a joint investigation of the FBI’s probes of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server for official business while she was secretary of state and of the basis for Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s decision to appoint Robert Mueller as special counsel to examine allegations that aides to Trump’s 2016 campaign colluded with Russian interests.