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House Republicans hit plan to drop terror panel for one probing Donald Trump

January 16, 2019

House Republicans are up in arms over a plan by the new Democratic chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee that could abolish the panel’s anti-terrorism subcommittee and replace it with one that will focus in part on President Trump’s business interests and how they affect U.S. foreign policy.

The reorganization eyed by new committee Chairman Eliot Engel, New York Democrat, was first reported by The New Yorker.

“I am disappointed with [Mr. Engel’s] reported plans to eliminate the Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade Subcommittee for one dedicated to investigations,” Texas Rep. Mike McCaul, the ranking Republican on the House foreign affairs panel, said in an interview. “Since 9-11, that subcommittee has been vital in better securing America and promoting trade. I hear the new one will be dedicated to partisan politics. I strongly urge my friend to reconsider.”

Rep. Francis Rooney, Florida Republican and a member of the committee, warned it would be a “mistake” to abolish the anti-terror subcommittee.

“Terrorism is a significant security threat all around the world and the United States should continue to lead in countering acts of terror both at home and abroad.”

Mr. Engel, who became chairman with the Democratic takeover of the House in November’s midterm election, has repeatedly questioned Mr. Trump’s business interests and how they may be affecting foreign policy.

“We all know that the Russians interfered with our 2016 election, and we know they interfered to help Donald Trump win,” he told CNN Monday. “And since that time, there have been meetings between [Russian President Vladimir Putin] and Trump, and we don’t know what went on.”

“Why is it that the president of the United States seems to diss, go against our allies like the U.K., Germany, France, and cozy up to Putin,” he added. ”... You want to try to improve relations with your adversaries but the question is, why is it so secretive?”

Although the subcommittee has not finalized a chair or list of members, it is all but certain the panel will dive into investigating Mr. Trump’s meeting with Mr. Putin in Helsinki last year, where he reportedly asked the interpreter not to share their notes with administration officials.

“We just thought, if we’re going to do something relevant in this era where Congress is going to reassert itself, where there are so many questionable activities of this administration vis-a-vis foreign policy, that it made sense to have this,” Mr. Engel told the New Yorker.

Once established, according to Mr. Engel, the subcommittee will investigate moments between the president and world leaders that caught the world’s attention, from his diplomacy with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to his efforts to cultivate Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Sultan.

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