Pennsylvania Democrats in U.S. House vote to take Trump subpoena fights to court

President Donald Trump during the State of the Union address (Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — The U.S. House on Tuesday approved Democrats’ measure to make it easier for lawmakers to take legal action against Trump administration officials who defy congressional subpoenas.

The resolution — passed 229-191 along party lines — specifically allows lawsuits against Attorney General William Barr and former White House Counsel Don McGahn, both of whom defied subpoenas issued by the House Judiciary Committee in relation to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.

More broadly, the measure allows committee leaders to file lawsuits that aim to enforce subpoenas, even without a full House vote, if they have approval from a bipartisan group of leaders of the chamber.

The move appears to mark a strategic shift for House Democrats as they spar with a president who has vowed to fight “all the subpoenas.” Instead of pursuing criminal contempt against Barr and McGahn — which would be referred to the Justice Department and likely quashed — House Democrats are looking instead toward the courts.

House Democrats — including the leaders of committees conducting oversight of the administration — portrayed the measure as an important tool for nudging a “stonewalling” president.

“The Trump administration is engaged in one of the most unprecedented cover-ups since Watergate,” said Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee. “It’s not just about Russia, it is so much broader than that.”

Cummings said that in all of his committee’s investigations, “The White House has not produced one single shred of paper in response to our requests.” Cummings’ committee is slated to vote on Wednesday to hold Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress over defying subpoenas related to a possible citizenship question on the 2020 census.

Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee who has sought Trump’s financial documents, accused the administration of “unprecedented stonewalling.” She said of Trump, “Who does he think he is, a dictator?”

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., said on the House floor ahead of the vote Tuesday, “When a congressional committee issues a subpoena, compliance is not optional.”

Nadler on Monday announced he had reached a deal with the Justice Department to secure evidence underlying Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report, and would be holding the “criminal contempt process in abeyance for now.” Nadler’s committee previously voted to hold Barr in contempt for refusing to hand over an unredacted version of the Mueller report.

House Republicans, however, accused Democrats of continuing to waste time on investigating Trump in an attempt to score political points.

“It is clear to me that the Democrats are trying to influence the 2020 presidential election at taxpayer expense,” said Rep. Debbie Lesko, R-Ariz., a member of the Judiciary Committee.

Virginia Rep. Ben Cline, a freshman Republican who joined that committee in January, said he’s been frustrated by the “circus” he’s witnessed there in recent months as Democrats have scrutinized the Mueller probe.

He called the resolution a “travesty” and accused Democrats of searching for “some reason, any reason to impeach this president.”

1 COMMENT

  1. Do you care about animals? Then care that illegal aliens are involved in wildlife trafficking, a $10 billion industry that harms vulnerable animal populations and brings various endangered species closer to extinction. The most commonly trafficked endangered animal seizures into the United States are coral (2,095), parrots (1,105), and lizards (466).Of the 4,968 live endangered animal seizures, 257 have been of animal species that face a threat of extinction.In May 2018, for example, three aliens crossed the border into Texas with a black duffel bag, which they abandoned when they realized there were Border Patrol agents nearby. When agents searched the bag, they discovered an unconscious tiger cub.In February 2017, President Trump signed an executive order entitled “Enforcing Federal Law with respect to Transnational Criminal Organizations and Preventing International Trafficking”.5 The order redirected more resources to the identification of transnational criminal networks. In the order, the president noted that the same criminal networks are often jointly responsible for “the illegal smuggling and trafficking of humans, drugs or other substances, wildlife, and weapons.” Is it “Moral” that we allow illegal aliens to destroy and kill and traffic animals across our US border? Destroy the desert? Among the trash strewn among the cacti and desert turtles by illegal aliens are batteries, cell phones, clothes, food, homemade weapons, human waste, jeans, medications, radios, razors, ropes, soap, and water bottles, according to Daily Star reporter Tony Davis. The desert animals and plant life have been trampled by illegal aliens. And then there’s, the harm to our American children pushed aside for the children of people who broke our immigration laws and should be deported. Not given free education for their children as an award. That’s human behavior 101. You don’t reward bad behavior. That’s like telling the guy who breaks into your home it’s okay for him to sleep in the garage, have some food from your frig and use your shower. That’s nice to do for someone truly in need, but you don’t do it when people knowingly break the law and the alternative is open to them to apply lEGALLY. They are choosing to come illegally. Only fools reward such behavior to the detriment of innocent animals, wildlife and American citizens. The education of the children of illegal aliens in Pennsylvania’s public schools is costing the state’s taxpayers nearly $230 million dollars annually. Emergency medical expenditures and incarceration costs of illegal aliens and arrived at an estimated cost of about $735 million per year by 2020. Illegal immigrants normally use the public services such as health facilities, public schools, transportation, parks and every other public utility you can think of. However, they don’t pay taxes for the building and maintenance of these utilities. And stop lying about people fleeing Mexico because they are in danger. That’s absurd. Millions of Americans travel to Mexico and live it up in luxury. Mexico has plenty of resources and money. Mexico’s leaders are smart. They encourage their poorest people to cross the border and use our system so they don’t have to care for their own citizens. It’s a brilliant strategy. None of the illegal aliens “fleeing ” these so called “oppressive regimes” are doctors, lawyers, scientists or teachers.” Nope. Have you noticed they are ONLY Mexicos’s and other latino countries’ POOREST people. The rich of Mexico, the elite, those with money, don’t want all these poor Mexicans. They want you and all of us Americans to pay for them as they send money back to Mexico and pay no taxes here, use our schools, hospitals and welfare system. We should put pressure on Mexico and other countries to provide a welfare system to their disabled, elderly and poor. That is the solution to help stop these countries from sending their poor here, where they are harming our wildlife, putting more strain on our economy, increasing carbon footprints, etc…

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