Judiciary Committee Subpoenas Slew of Current and Ex-White House Officials
WASHINGTON – The House Judiciary Committee voted along party lines Thursday to subpoena a dozen current and former Trump administration officials in its ongoing probe of possible obstruction of justice documented by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
In a separate vote, the committee authorized subpoenas for documents and testimony related to the administration’s immigration policies, particularly in regard to its practice of separating children from their families at the border.
A short time later, House Democratic leaders set Tuesday for a full House vote to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in criminal contempt of Congress over their refusal to relinquish documents related to White House efforts to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.
“The House will not shirk from its oversight of this administration and its malign effort to silence the voices of millions in our democracy,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., in a statement provided to reporters.
“Even after the Supreme Court ruled that the Administration had not sufficiently explained why it was attempting to add a question on citizenship to the 2020 Census, and therefore the census should move forward without it, reports indicate that President Trump will continue to ignore the law and seek to undermine the accuracy of the count,” Hoyer said.
“Our Constitution is clear: the census must count the number of persons – all persons – residing in the United States. That is the only way we can ensure that every community receives an equitable share of resources. It is the only way we can ensure fair and equal representation in Congress,” he said.
The multiple developments come just six days before the Judiciary and Intelligence committees are set to hear public testimony from Mueller about his investigation into Russian interference and potential obstruction by Trump.
Trump blasted the issuance of the new subpoenas on Twitter Thursday morning, but so far he’s said nothing about the pending contempt vote targeting two of his highest-ranking officials.
“Now the Democrats have asked to see 12 more people who have already spent hours with Robert Mueller, and spent a fortune on lawyers in so doing. How many bites at the apple do they get before working on Border Loopholes and Asylum[?]” Trump said.
“They also want to interview the highly conflicted and compromised Mueller again,” the president continued in a second tweet. “[Mueller] said he was ‘done’ after his last 9 minute speech, and that he had nothing more to say outside of the No Collusion, No Obstruction, Report. Enough already, go back to work! I won, unanimously, the big Emoluments case yesterday!”
Among those subpoenaed by the Judiciary Committee Thursday were former Attorney General Jeff Sessions; former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein; Ex-White House Chief of Staff John Kelly; former National Security adviser Michael Flynn; Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law; and Corey Lewandowski, a former Trump campaign manager.
“The committee on the judiciary has a constitutional obligation to investigate credible allegations of misconduct,” House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said at the start of Thursday’s hearing. “There is no substitute for primary evidence as the committee makes its decisions.”
Representative Doug Collins, R-Ga., the ranking Republican member of the committee, said that by approving the subpoenas, his Democratic colleagues were merely playing politics for their own gain.
“Today’s subpoena binge is an effort to change the narrative,” Collins said. “It is a show of force. It is a chance for the chairman to prove to his rank and file, and the rest of the Democratic caucus, he can be tough on the Trump administration after being pushed around for six months.”
But Nadler stood his ground, explaining the Justice Department had failed to meaningfully comply with voluntary requests for the same information
By comparison, the Homeland Security and Health and Human Services departments have largely complied with similar requests, he noted.
“We have given the administration ample time to respond to these serious reports of egregious conduct,” Nadler said. “This committee cannot sit idly by. There must be oversight and accountability.”