Oversight Committee Republicans Block All Debate and Votes on Subpoenas
Oversight Committee Republicans
Block All Debate and Votes on Subpoenas
GOP Walls Off President, Top Aides, and Others from Scrutiny
Washington, D.C. (Nov. 2, 2017)—Today, during a business meeting of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Republican Committee Members blocked all consideration of requests by Democrats to debate and vote on six subpoenas for critical documents that are being withheld by the White House and others.
“I understand the Chairman personally may disagree with our efforts to conduct vigorous oversight of the Executive Branch—and in particular this White House. We get that,” said Ranking Member Elijah Cummings. “But all of our Committee Members deserve the opportunity to debate and vote on these motions, rather than have him unilaterally blocking their consideration. House rules provide for subpoenas to be issued by a vote of the full Committee, and all we are asking for is the opportunity to do so.”
Before Rep. Trey Gowdy became Chairman of the Oversight Committee—while a Democrat was in the White House—he promised to exercise the Committee’s authority just as vigorously with a Republican president: “I hope I live long enough to see a Republican President. And if I do, and if I’m in Congress, I promise you, I will make her or him be responsive to the people’s House when they have legitimate requests for documents!”
“Today’s markup was an opportunity to make good on that promise,” said Cummings. “But he disregarded our requests, he failed to respond to our letters, and he blocked all of these votes.”
On Tuesday, Cummings sent a letter on behalf of all Democratic Committee Members reiterating multiple unanswered requests that Gowdy place six motions for subpoenas on the agenda for today’s business meeting.
Gowdy declined to attend today’s business meeting, instead sending a letter minutes before the meeting began summarily rejecting the Democratic requests and disregarding contrary positions he took himself while serving as Chairman of the Benghazi Select Committee.
For each of the six subpoena requests, Cummings and other Committee Members had previously sent Gowdy separate, detailed letters setting forth the specific bases for the motions and requesting that Gowdy allow a Committee vote if he declined to issue a subpoena himself:
- White House Withholding Documents on Flynn’s Foreign Contacts: On October 18, 2017, all Democratic Committee Members wrote to Gowdy requesting that he issue a subpoena to compel the White House to produce documents it is withholding relating to former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn in response to the Committee’s bipartisan request, or to allow Committee Members to vote on a motion to issue the subpoena.
- White House Withholding Documents on Personal Email Use by Top Aides: On October 20, 2017, Cummings wrote to request that Gowdy join him in demanding full White House compliance with the bipartisan letter that they sent on September 25, 2017, seeking the identities of all White House officials who have used personal email for official business, as well as other information, or to allow Committee Members to vote on a subpoena.
- Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump Withholding Documents on Emails: On October 23, 2017, Cummings wrote to request that Gowdy join two previous letters he sent requesting documents relating to Senior Advisor Jared Kushner and Advisor Ivanka Trump, their use of private email accounts and servers for government business in potential violation of the Presidential Records Act, and reports that they relocated their emails to Trump Organization servers in apparent violation of letters from this Committee. In the alternative, Cummings asked Gowdy to allow a Committee vote to subpoena the information.
- White House Withholding Documents on Hurricane Response: On October 26, 2017, Cummings wrote to request that Gowdy reconsider his decision to reject the request from him and Rep. Stacey Plaskett to follow the example of the Committee’s former Chairman, Republican Tom Davis, and request documents from the White House as part of the Committee’s bipartisan investigation into the Trump Administration’s response to the hurricanes in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, or to allow all Committee Members to vote on a subpoena motion.
- Governor Snyder Withholding Documents on Flint Water Investigation: On October 24, 2017, Cummings wrote to request that Gowdy issue a subpoena compelling Michigan Governor Rick Snyder to comply in full with the Committee’s bipartisan request for documents on February 26, 2016, relating to the Flint water crisis, including all documents relating to when the Governor became aware of concerns relating to Legionnaires’ disease and lead in the water, or to allow a Committee vote to subpoena the Governor.
- Kushner Companies Withholding Documents on Alleged Housing Abuses: On October 20, 2017, Cummings wrote to request that Gowdy place the full authority of the Committee behind a request that he and other Members of the Maryland Delegation sent on August 18, 2017, requesting documents relating to multiple reports that the Kushner Companies failed to maintain rental units in the Baltimore region in compliance with Department of Housing and Urban Development quality standards, or to allow Committee Members to vote on a motion to subpoena the documents.
During the business meeting today, Vice Ranking Member Gerry Connolly moved to have the Committee consider a subpoena to obtain the first category of documents—those currently being withheld by the White House in response to the Committee’s bipartisan request in March relating to former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s foreign contract.
Acting Chairman Mark Meadows refused to allow any consideration of the subpoena or a vote on his decision not to allow debate.
Click here to read Cummings’ statement for the business meeting.
Click here to watch Cummings’ remarks and Connolly’s motion.