After learning today that the Democrat-led House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) will not allow Foreign Affairs Committee Republicans to have equal representation or the opportunity to question Kurt Volker at tomorrow’s scheduled interview, Congressman Michael McCaul (R-TX), Lead Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, demanded HPSCI Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) allow Republicans and Democrats to participate on an equal playing field in their impeachment probe. Furthermore, Lead Republican McCaul expressed concern to Chairman Eliot Engel (D-NY) that the Foreign Affairs Committee’s oversight role over the State Department and the conduct of U.S. foreign policy has been usurped by another committee without jurisdiction. McCaul reinforced that “impeaching the President of the United States is a grave and serious matter for the American people,” and he expects the Democrats to lead their investigation in a fair, impartial manner.

Democrat staff on HPSCI informed the Foreign Affairs Committee that only one Republican staff member would be allowed to attend the transcribed interview of Kurt Volker, the former State Department Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations, and would not be allowed to participate in questioning. However, under House Rule X, “Relations of the United States with foreign nations” is the jurisdiction of the Foreign Affairs Committee.

In the letter, McCaul wrote: “I was alarmed to learn – less than 24 hours before the first interview is scheduled to start – that it will be led by the Intelligence Committee and that questioning will be done solely by their staff. Also we were told that only a single Republican professional staffer from the Foreign Affairs Committee will be allowed to attend while the majority will have two. These constraints on committee and Republican participation are unacceptable and at odds with House Rules and general fairness. …We demand equal representation and participation in this inquiry, there is too much at stake for America and Congress.”

Furthermore, contrary to statements made by Speaker Pelosi and other Democrats, there is not a “House of Representatives’ impeachment inquiry.” Official impeachment inquiries are initiated by the adoption of a House resolution empowering or creating a committee or task force to undertake such activities.

McCaul continued, “Individual committees may conduct oversight and investigations only pursuant to their general jurisdiction and authority under House Rules X and XI. … Put simply, Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff lacks the jurisdiction to investigate the Department of State’s conduct of United States foreign policy toward Ukraine. That prerogative belongs to our Members.”

Full text of the letter is available here and below:

October 2, 2019

The Honorable
Eliot L. Engel, Chairman
Committee on Foreign Affairs
House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Mr. Chairman:

I am writing to strongly object to the abdication of the Foreign Affairs Committee’s oversight jurisdiction to the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. It will damage the credibility of our committee and minimize our Members’ expertise in the exercise of that jurisdiction.

On September 27, 2019, you and two other chairmen sent a letter to the Secretary of State claiming to “schedule” without subpoena the depositions of five State Department officials to “be conducted jointly by the Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and the Committee on Oversight and Reform.” The stated subjects of the depositions – the conduct of U.S. relations with Ukraine, and U.S. security assistance to help Ukraine counter Russian aggression – are squarely within the Rule X jurisdiction of the Committee on Foreign Affairs. According to House Rule X, our committee is responsible for “Relations of the United States with foreign nations generally.” This is not the jurisdiction of the Intelligence Committee.

Contrary to the first sentence of that letter, there is not a “House of Representatives’ impeachment inquiry.” Official impeachment inquiries are initiated by the adoption of a House resolution empowering or creating a committee or task force to undertake such activities. In both the Nixon and Clinton cases, the Judiciary Committee debated and reported a resolution authorizing the Judiciary Committee to investigate whether there were sufficient grounds to impeach the President, which was then debated and voted on by the full House of Representatives.[1] There have been no such debates or votes in this Congress.

Unless and until that happens, individual committees may conduct oversight and investigations only pursuant to their general jurisdiction and authority under House Rules X and XI. Except for the Committee on Oversight and Reform (which is granted plenary investigative authority by Rule X(4)(c)(2)), committees do not have the authority to conduct investigations within the jurisdiction of other standing committees.

Put simply, Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff lacks the jurisdiction to investigate the Department of State’s conduct of United States foreign policy toward Ukraine. That prerogative belongs to our Members.

Thus, I was alarmed to learn – less than 24 hours before the first interview is scheduled to start – that it will be led by the Intelligence Committee and that questioning will be done solely by their staff. Also we were told that only a single Republican professional staffer from the Foreign Affairs Committee will be allowed to attend while the majority will have two. These constraints on committee and Republican participation are unacceptable and at odds with House Rules and general fairness. Impeaching the President of the United States is a grave and serious matter for the American people, and they expect fairness and due process by their representatives in establishing the facts. We demand equal representation and participation in this inquiry, there is too much at stake for America and Congress.

Sincerely,

MICHAEL T. McCAUL
Ranking Member
House Foreign Affairs Committee


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