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House GOP to go on offense on investigations

House GOP to go on offense on investigations

House Republicans are leaning into their investigations this week, holding a key floor vote and high-profile hearing as they look to go on offense to contrast the ongoing legal entanglements surrounding former President Trump.

The lower chamber is set to vote on holding Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt of Congress, as Republicans spar with the Justice Department over the audio recordings of President Biden’s interview with special counsel Robert Hur. A pair of panels advanced contempt resolutions last month, but the vote was delayed as it remained unclear if Republicans had enough support to penalize the top law enforcement officer.

Also this week, the House Judiciary Committee is set to hold a hearing on the Manhattan District Attorney’s office following former President Trump’s conviction in the New York hush money trial. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg — whose presence has been requested — however, is unable to sit for a hearing that day, leaving the path forward uncertain for the GOP-led panel.

On the other side of the Capitol, the Senate is set to vote on a bill to protect access to in vitro fertilization, the latest move by Democrats to put a spotlight on women’s reproductive rights ahead of the November elections.

And former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) is set to appear before a House panel behind closed doors this week to testify about his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Empire State.

House to vote on holding Garland in contempt

The House this week is set to hold a vote on holding Garland in contempt of Congress, nearly one month after two GOP-led committees advanced the punishment.

The House Rules Committee is scheduled to consider a resolution to hold Garland in contempt on Tuesday at noon. If that advances, which is expected, the next stop would be the House floor for a vote of the entire chamber.

This week’s vote will mark the culmination of months-long push by House Republicans to gain access to audio recordings of Biden’s interviews with special counsel Robert Hur.

Republicans already have the transcript of Biden’s conversation with Hur, but they are seeking the audio recordings after the special counsel said the president presented himself as “a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.” The president has claimed executive privilege over the audio records.

The House Judiciary and Oversight Committees advanced resolutions to hold Garland in contempt of Congress last month, but Republican leadership held off on scheduling a full-House vote for weeks amid uncertainty of whether or not there was enough support to penalize the attorney general.

At least two Republicans had privately said they planned to vote against the resolution, a worrying sign for GOP leaders and their slim majority. This week, however, GOP lawmakers are preparing to take the plunge on the vote.

“If Merrick Garland continues to refuse to comply with Congressional subpoenas and deny American citizens the transparency and information they deserve to determine the truth, he will face the consequences,” House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) wrote in a floor lookout on Sunday.

The vote comes as House Republicans have struggled to find a smoking gun in their ongoing impeachment investigation into Biden.

House GOP eyes Bragg testimony

The House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing Thursday on the Manhattan District Attorney’s office — following Trump’s conviction on 34 felony counts last month — but it remains unclear how the panel will proceed after the district attorney’s office said the GOP’s requested date was not feasible for Bragg.

“Everything is on the table as to what is next,” committee spokesperson Russell Dye told The Hill.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) demanded that Bragg and another prosecutor testify on June 13 — Thursday — shortly after a 12-person jury found Trump guilty of falsifying business records in the case centered on a $130,000 hush money payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels.

On Friday, Leslie B. Dubeck, the Manhattan district attorney’s general counsel, said the office was willing to cooperate with the committee, but noted that it must come after Trump’s sentencing on July 11. She also said the requested date, June 13, would not work for the district attorney.

"This Office is committed to voluntary cooperation,” Dubeck wrote. “That cooperation includes making the District Attorney available to provide testimony on behalf of the Office at an agreed-upon date, and evaluating the propriety of allowing an Assistant District Attorney to testify publicly about an active prosecution to which he is assigned.”

"The District Attorney’s Office therefore requests an opportunity to engage with Committee staff to identify a new hearing date, and to better understand the scope and purpose of the proposed hearing,” she added.

Thursday’s hearing is one of many examples of House Republicans targeting individuals investigating Trump. Earlier this month, Jordan wrote a letter to House Appropriations Committee Chairman Tom Cole (R-Okla.) asking that his panel include a number of “reforms” in the government funding process this year, including nixing funding for the FBI “that is not essential for the agency to execute its mission” and eliminating federal funding for “state prosecutors or state attorneys general involved in lawfare.”

Senate to take up IVF bill

The Senate this week is set to vote on a bill to protect access to in vitro fertilization (IVF), the latest attempt by Democrats to put Republicans on the record on the topic of women’s reproductive rights.

The legislation — led by Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) — would establish a nationwide right to IVF and other assisted reproductive technology, in addition to lowering the costs of IVF treatment to make it more affordable.

The issue of IVF access skyrocketed in prominence after the Alabama Supreme Court in February ruled that embryos are children and, therefore, protected by the state’s wrongful death statute. In March, the state enacted a bill protecting IVF providers from the controversial decision.

The court’s ruling shocked the nation and shook the political world, with Republicans determining how to best react to the opinion. Many GOP lawmakers have said they support IVF.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he is teeing up the vote to show Americans where lawmakers stand on the matter of reproductive rights, which emerged as a salient topic among voters after the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade.

"Americans can once again see where Republicans stand on the very important issue of reproductive rights,” he said at a press conference last week.

The IVF vote is the second vote Schumer has staged pertaining to reproductive rights this month. Last week, Senate Republicans blocked a bill that would create a federal right to birth control.

Cuomo to testify about COVID-19 behind closed doors

Cuomo — who served as governor of New York from 2011 until his resignation in 2021 — is scheduled to sit for a transcribed interview before the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic on Tuesday.

The panel said lawmakers will ask Cuomo "to explain the circumstances surrounding his issuance of New York’s deadly ‘must-admit’ COVID-19 nursing home guidance.”

"His testimony is crucial to uncover the circumstances that led to his misguided policies and for ensuring that fatal mistakes never happen again,” Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio), the chairman of the panel, said in a statement last week. “It is well past time for Cuomo to stop dodging accountability to Congress and start answering honestly to the American people.”

The transcribed interview comes after the panel issued Cuomo a subpoena in March, expressing interest in investigating his handling of COVID-19 in nursing homes.

The testimony comes one week after Anthony Fauci, the former head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testified before the panel during a heated hearing.

Cuomo announced in August 2021 that he was resigning from the top job in New York after state Attorney General Letitia James (D) released a report that detailed allegations of sexual harassment against the then-governor. He also faced criticism from some for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in New York.

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