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Top Dems Ask Gowdy to Subpoena DOJ and DHS for Documents Regarding Violations of Whistleblower Protection Law

Apr 24, 2018
Press Release

Top Dems Ask Gowdy to Subpoena

DOJ and DHS for Documents Regarding

Violations of Whistleblower Protection Law

 

Washington, D.C. (Apr. 24, 2018)—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Government Operations, sent a letter asking Chairman Trey Gowdy to issue subpoenas to compel the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security to produce documents they have been withholding for more than a year as part of the Committee’s bipartisan investigation into the Trump Administration’s violations of the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act and the Committee’s efforts to protect the right of whistleblowers to communicate with Congress about waste, fraud, and abuse at federal agencies.

“The protection of whistleblowers and the right of federal employees to communicate with Congress have been longstanding bipartisan priorities of this Committee,” the Ranking Members wrote.  “Unfortunately, you have refused to issue even a single subpoena to any agency or official during your entire tenure as Chairman, and it appears that this abdication of oversight may be emboldening the Trump Administration to simply ignore our requests, knowing the Committee will do nothing to compel its compliance.  Rather than protecting whistleblowers, the Committee appears to be more interested in protecting President Trump.”

Early last year, on February 7, 2017, Chairman Mark Meadows and Ranking Member Gerry Connolly of the Subcommittee on Government Operations sent bipartisan requests to multiple agencies seeking documents relating to the Trump Administration’s widespread use of nondisclosure agreements.  These nondisclosure agreements reportedly violated the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act by failing to include mandatory language informing whistleblowers that—regardless of any other provisions in the nondisclosure agreements—all employees have a right under federal law to communicate freely with Congress.

These bipartisan letters were sent more than a year ago, but the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security completely ignored them.  They have not produced any documents or provided any responsive information.  After a year passed with no response, Democratic and Republican Committee staff contacted both Departments in February of this year, and both claimed that responses would be forthcoming.  Yet, two more months have now passed with no information whatsoever from either agency.

“This is a very dangerous precedent,” the Ranking Members concluded.  “It undermines the integrity of our Committee and the respect that our requests are supposed to demand.  It also creates the unfortunate perception that subpoenas will be issued only when the Committee is investigating the opposing political party.  Worst of all, it deters whistleblowers from reporting abuses.  We have now spoken with a number of whistleblowers who are hesitant to come forward to speak with you, a trend that is worsening due to the Trump Administration’s record of overt retaliation.”

The Committee has continued to receive more reports that the Trump Administration is acting to chill whistleblower disclosures and interfere with the right of employees to communicate with Congress.  Just last week, Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz testified before the Committee that his office had conveyed their own concerns about the Department’s actions.  When asked whether the Department has taken any action to remedy these violations, he responded, “I haven’t seen anything further.”

Click here to read today’s letter.

115th Congress