Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday voted down an effort by Democrats to ask the White House to turn over documents related to any ties between President Donald Trump or conflicts of interest from his business dealings.
The "resolution of inquiry" failed on an 18-16 vote that fell along party lines, Politico reported.
It would have asked the Department of Justice to give Congress "any document, record, memo, correspondence, or other communication" linked to "criminal or counterintelligence investigations" about Trump or his staff.
Though the effort failed, it gave Democrats the chance to force Republicans to be on record voting against a call for more oversight into Trump's dealings, Politico noted. And Democrats on other committees may follow suit to get as many Republicans on record as possible.
The rare procedural move was used by Democrats because it forced the president's party to take up the issue within 14 business days or would allow Democrats to request a full vote of the House.
Democrats say they are concerned about allegations of ties between Trump's campaign and Russia and whether he is in violation of the Constitution's emoluments clause that would bar him from profiting from his office.
Republicans said the move was purely political.
Chairman Bob Goodlatte said the resolution was "unnecessary, premature," while Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz said, "the hyperbole is thick enough to cut with a knife. In fact, what we are witnessing is that President Trump's detractors are going through the stages of grief because Hillary Clinton lost and Donald Trump won."
GOP Rep. Darrell Issa of California has called for a special prosecutor to look into the Trump teams contacts with Russian officials, but he said Congress should hold off on the calling for documents to be turned over.
"Virtually without fail, my investigations began with letters, letters that asked to preserve documents, letters that made people aware that Congress was interested in something," Issa said, adding Republicans will join in if anything improper is found.
"If they have attempted to distort our democracy, we must know it and we must stop it," Issa said.
But Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas countered, "There is smoke and fire, so much so that I am overwhelmed."
Michigan Democratic Rep. John Conyers, who has been in the House since 1965, noted Republicans were slow to join in the early efforts to investigate President Richard Nixon over Watergate.
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