House Democrats are pushing forward with multiple investigations of the Trump administration, adopting an aggressive posture after special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE’s investigation ended disappointingly for critics of the president.
The chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee intensified a fight over White House security clearances on Monday, while the House Judiciary Committee announced it would vote Wednesday on authorizing a subpoena to compel the release of Mueller’s full report and underlying evidence to Congress.
The pressure comes amid growing calls from congressional Republicans for Democrats to stand down following the release of Mueller’s core findings and worries that the Democratic Party could hurt itself ahead of the 2020 election if it is seen as focusing too much on partisan investigations and not enough on governing. Yet Democrats also face pressure from their base to move forward with the probes.
House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsHouse panel to vote on subpoena over census question House Dems seek to subpoena former White House official over security clearances Endorsements? Biden can’t count on a flood from the Senate MORE (D-Md.) on Monday added momentum to his panel’s probe by revealing that a White House staffer informed the committee in a private interview of alleged failures in the White House security clearance process.
Tricia Newbold told the committee that Trump administration officials overruled her and other career employees in more than two dozen instances in order to grant clearances to officials and contractors despite “disqualifying issues” in their backgrounds. The list includes two senior White House officials, according to Cummings. He did not name the individuals.
Cummings, whose committee has been investigating the security clearance system since late January, said he plans to subpoena Carl Kline, former personnel security director in the Trump White House, to be deposed as part of the probe and accused the White House of “obstructing” it.
He also threatened to subpoena other White House officials and reiterated a call for documents related to the clearances of several top officials, including Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser,
Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerHouse Dems seek to subpoena former White House official over security clearances Trump to host Egyptian, South Korean presidents in April Kushner meets with Senate Intelligence Committee: reports MORE
, and the president’s eldest daughter,
Ivanka TrumpIvana (Ivanka) Marie TrumpIvanka Trump’s attorney suggested changes to Cohen testimony: report Women’s economic empowerment is a national security issue GOP lawmakers offer paid parental leave legislation linked to Social Security MORE
On a separate front, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerCollusion delusion is over Trump lashes out at Democrats who alleged collusion, including ‘Little pencilneck Adam Schiff’ Trump: ‘The collusion delusion is over’ MORE (D-N.Y.) said he planned to prepare subpoenas to compel testimony and documents from five former White House officials and campaign aides who he says failed to provide documents the panel requested last month as part of its sprawling investigation into possible corruption, obstruction of justice and abuse of power by members of Trump’s administration and inner circle.
The timing of Monday’s developments was striking. They came just over a week after the release of Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrTrump says ‘phony and fraudulent’ Russia investigation ‘should never’ happen again What did Mueller know? House Dem: Mueller report will show ‘plenty of reason to be concerned’ about Trump campaign contacts with Russia MORE’s summary of Mueller’s core findings, which revealed that the special counsel did not find evidence to accuse the Trump campaign of coordinating or conspiring with Russia to interfere in the 2016 election.
Trump and Republicans have been celebrating Barr’s four-page letter, and they’ve gone on the attack against House chairmen, most notably Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffTrump’s noble moment: Waiving executive privilege on Mueller’s report Trump campaign starts selling ‘Pencil-neck Adam Schiff’ t-shirts Pelosi knocks Nunes amid mounting calls for Schiff’s resignation MORE (D-Calif.) on the Intelligence Committee, accusing Democrats of conducting partisan probes.
House Democrats have signaled since early last week that they plan to move forward with their investigations despite Mueller’s findings, arguing there is much more to investigate beyond allegations of collusion.
“There are a number of things going on in the Congress and certainly in the Southern District of New York and other offices, such as looking at the president’s inauguration, looking at his organization, looking at things like security clearances,” Cummings told reporters last week. “There’s a lot. So, what I suspect is that we will continue what we were going to do anyway.”
Part of Democrats’ focus is on getting to the bottom of what Mueller found in his 22-month investigation, particularly when it comes to whether Trump obstructed justice. Barr said last week that he concluded there was not sufficient evidence to accuse the president of obstruction after Mueller declined to make a judgment.
Nadler is vowing to strictly enforce his Tuesday deadline for Barr to provide the full Mueller report and its underlying evidence to Congress, even after the attorney general predicted a public version would be ready by mid-April after he removes classified information and grand jury material.
Nadler on Monday rejected Barr’s timeline and scheduled a Wednesday markup of a resolution that would authorize the use of a subpoena in an effort to obtain the report. He accused Barr of refusing to work with his committee and demanded the release of the full report to Congress “without delay.”
Cummings’s subpoena resolution markup is set for Tuesday, suggesting a rapid-fire approach from Democrats throughout the week.
Cummings will also be authorizing subpoenas if a slew of government officials do not agree to provide testimony and documents to his committee by Tuesday related to the administration’s proposal to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.
The move toward authorizing subpoenas for the Mueller report and other documents and witness testimony is sure to ratchet up tensions between congressional Democrats and the White House and could ultimately result in court battles.
And the president’s allies are likely to launch more attacks against Democrats.
Republicans quickly derided Monday’s moves by Democrats as a desperate attempt to find a new avenue for impeachment efforts.
“The Democratic Party is in disarray in the absence of a narrative about Russia because they lied to the country for 22 months,” Rep. Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzDemocrats to move on from Green New Deal Schiff defiant: ‘Undoubtedly, there is collusion’ Lobbying world MORE (R-Fla.), an outspoken member of the House Judiciary Committee, told Fox News on Monday. “Democrats are trying to cover up the fact that they were wrong. They have to say something. The conclusions are the president didn’t collude with Russia.”
Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanCollusion delusion is over House Dems seeking Trump financial info going back 10 years Raskin embraces role as constitutional scholar MORE (Ohio), the top Republican on the Oversight panel, on Monday accused Cummings of spearheading a “unilateral and partisan investigation” into security clearances and released his own memo characterizing Newbold’s testimony as cherry-picked and used to build a “misleading narrative.”
Schiff has already been the target of broadsides from Trump and Republicans on his own committee for describing what he viewed as evidence of collusion during the course of Mueller’s probe.
At the start of a committee hearing on Thursday, Rep. Mike ConawayKenneth (Mike) Michael ConawayGOP zeroes in on Schiff Pelosi rushes to Schiff’s defense GOP rep calls for investigation into Schiff MORE (R-Texas) presented a letter signed by all nine GOP members of the panel that called for Schiff’s resignation, accusing him of promoting a “demonstrably false” narrative that harms the panel’s integrity.
As chairman, Schiff has launched a sprawling counterintelligence investigation into Trump’s Russia ties and financial interests, an inquiry that faces headwinds as Republicans appear intent on disrupting it given Mueller’s findings.
“For me, the chairman has had two months to provide this evidence that he suggests that he has. And he hasn’t,” Rep. Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdThe Hill’s Morning Report — Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition — Trump rallies for second term on ‘promises kept’ Overnight Defense: House votes to condemn transgender military ban | 5 Republicans vote against ban | Senate bill would block Turkey getting F-35s over Russia deal The 5 Republicans who voted to condemn Trump’s transgender military ban MORE (R-Texas), one of the more moderate members of the committee, said last week.
“They’re still continuing to double down as if there’s more information that’s going to come out. Bob Mueller made it very, very clear. He said there was no evidence,” Hurd continued. “Now it’s time to prevent this from happening in the future.”
While the release of Mueller’s core findings dealt a blow to any impeachment efforts, there remains a small but vocal group, including lawmakers such as Rep. Al GreenAlexander (Al) N. GreenTlaib unveils resolution to investigate Trump impeachment Pelosi, Dems look for upside to Mueller report Tlaib asking colleagues to support impeachment investigation resolution MORE (D-Texas), that continues to discuss the prospect of removing Trump from office.
But for the most part, Democrats are expected to shift attention to rounding out their legislative agenda even as they move forward with various Trump investigations.
Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D’Alesandro PelosiMoulton: Newborn daughter ‘absolutely’ a consideration in 2020 White House bid GOP on defensive over Dem votes on policies geared toward women Dems worry Mueller findings could expand executive power MORE (D-Calif.) urged her caucus to focus on policy issues such as health care and jobs in a closed-door meeting last week.
“I think it’s pretty clear that while the Speaker continues to push her legislative agenda, she’s going to allow her chairmen all the flexibility they need to investigate the president and this administration,” Democratic strategist Jim Manley said in a phone interview. “Despite the fact that the president continues to suggest there is nothing left to investigate, the investigations are going to continue for months, if not years, to come.”