House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Eliot Engel (D., N.Y.) announced he will eliminate the terrorism subcommittee in favor a new subcommittee dedicated to investigating President Donald Trump.
"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-à-vis foreign policy, that it made sense to have this," Engel told the New Yorker.
The terrorism subcommittee was created after the 9/11 terror attacks to overseer U.S. "efforts to manage and coordinate international programs to combat terrorism," according to past committee rules. According to Engel, when he proposed the new turn, there "wasn't a great clamor" to keep the terrorism subcommittee in the new Democrat-controlled Foreign Affairs Committee.
Engel said he plans to investigate Trump's private meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin, as well as "the business interests of the President" and how much Trump's financial dealings have "affected what he’s done in foreign policy."
This is an unusual turn for the Foreign Affairs Committee, which generally considers legislation and holds hearings on foreign policy, not individuals' dealings with other individuals.
"Foreign Affairs is not exactly an investigative sort of committee. In a different political moment, Engel’s top priority might be to hold hearings on the escalating conflict between Russia and Ukraine, or China’s increasingly hostile posture toward its neighbors, or the failures of American strategy in Afghanistan," the New Yorker notes.
But Engel said it is "incumbent upon us" to look at Trump's personal interest in U.S. interactions with nations and leaders into which he believes Trump has fallen "in love": Russia, Saudia Arabia, and North Korea.