US House Approves Authority to Sue Trump Advisers Who Ignore Subpoenas

Jonathan Ernst/File Photo/Reuters

The Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday voted to give lawmakers clear authority to sue Trump administration figures who defy congressional subpoenas, including former White House Counsel Don McGahn.

In an escalation of wide-ranging probes of President Donald Trump and his inner circle, lawmakers voted 229-191 along party lines to approve the measure authorizing House committees to file lawsuits in federal court seeking orders from judges to compel officials to cooperate with congressional inquiries.

The measure authorizes the House Judiciary Committee to seek a court order enforcing subpoenas seeking an unredacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller‘s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election and underlying evidence from the investigation.

Democrats acknowledged the unprecedented nature of the resolution.

“This has not been done before. But neither have we ever seen blanket stonewalling by the administration of all information requests by the House,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler said on the floor of the House. “We must go to court to enforce the subpoenas.”

Democrats predicted that Nadler would move quickly to compel McGahn’s testimony before his panel about the Republican president’s efforts to impede Mueller’s investigation.

McGahn, a star witness in the Mueller report, last month defied a subpoena for his testimony and related documents after the White House directed him not to cooperate with the Judiciary panel.

“He’s made it clear that he’s very committed to getting Mr. McGahn before the committee as quickly as possible,” Representative David Cicilline, a Democrat on Nadler’s panel, told reporters on Capitol Hill.

The measure also establishes a process for other panels to take similar action. Half a dozen House panels are looking into Trump’s presidency and personal holdings. The House Ways and Means Committee is seeking his tax returns.

Other panels are probing his financial records and documents on policies ranging from immigrant family separation to the transfer of nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia.

“In all of our investigations, the White House has not produced one single shred of paper in response to our requests,” House Committee on Oversight and Reform Chairman Elijah Cummings said. “This begs the question: what are (they) covering up?”

Tuesday’s measure also authorizes the House Judiciary Committee to petition a federal judge for permission to access grand jury evidence from the Mueller probe.


House Republicans dismissed the vote as an unprecedented and unnecessary “media-grabbing” stunt by Democrats to bolster partisan interests in the 2020 presidential election in which Trump is seeking a second four-year term in office.

“It is difficult not to view the purpose of this resolution and this debate as anything but political,” Republican Representative Debbie Lesko said.

The vote took place a day after Trump retreated from a months-long stonewalling campaign against House Democrats by allowing the Justice Department to give members of Nadler’s committee more evidence from the Mueller probe.

Under the agreement, House Democrats will hold off on an earlier plan for a criminal contempt vote against Attorney General William Barr, who has resisted a subpoena for an unredacted version of the Mueller report and underlying evidence. A redacted version was released by Barr in April.

Judiciary Committee members hoped to gain access to underlying material including FBI interviews and investigative notes at the Justice Department as early as Tuesday afternoon.

Trump’s defiance of House Democrats has helped ratchet up pressure on Democratic leaders to formally begin the impeachment process set out in the U.S. Constitution to remove a president from office – an inquiry that some rank-and-file Democrats see as giving legal heft to House investigations of Trump.

It was not clear what effect the agreement with the Justice Department would have on that dynamic.

The House Oversight Committee plans to hold contempt votes against Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on Wednesday after they defied subpoenas related to the U.S. census.

(Reporting by David Morgan; additional reporting by Richard Cowan and Amanda Becker; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Will Dunham)

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Dale parker
Dale parker

This is not an investigation! It is nothing but an attempted lynching by a group of sour losers!


How soon they forget subpoenas relating to Eric Holder and the Fast and Furious scandal. Or subpoenas relating to some 30,000 lost emails smashed Black Berries and Bleach Cleaned hard drives…..that didn’t take forever?


Those idiot libs are being taxpayer paid to take votes as useless as kids taking a vote on who bats first in T-Ball. Scumbag morons.

Phyllis Softa

So you are concluding that going forward Republicans wishing to cede their oversight powers of executive branch is an action that reflects a well thought out consequence??? Once Congress gives away their congressional responsibility it will be GONE. They have already ceded their responsibility of declaration of war to the executive branch. Currently the US Senate is under the direction & control of the Trump WH. WHAT is Trumpers’ goal? To eliminate the legislative branch? WHAT happened to the US CONSTITUTION??


The attack(s) on President Trump are unprecedented. Countless millions of dollars have been wasted in pursuit of dirt which has not been found. If there ever was any, which I doubt, Merry Maids could not have done a better job getting rid of it. This is just Nadler and pals in full-blown whine mode.


Neither the house nor the senate are doing their jobs. Where are all the congress members who questioned the Clinton cartel, or found out why Obama had no childhood friends, high school buddies, college pals that ever knew him? Who investigated the people who died suspiciously around the Clintons? Who followed a money trail to see why Obama, a nobody with no experience in life, became President?
Tired of all the bullying from people who are not attacking the real problem, the border crisis. Let’s investigate that and their lives!!

Dave Hardesty

My Dear President Trump Many of us are tired of the corruption in Congress perpetrated by corrupt liberal politicians in both parties and their supporters. You are doing a fine job. You also know who those key players are. So here is the proposition. Instead of not drawing your presidential salary would you consider using it, with a modest supplement from your millions, along with contributions from donations, to engage a group of private investigators to dig up the ‘dirt’ in their lives, expose them to the public and prosecute them so we can have THEM removed from political power?… Read more »

Phyllis Softa

If I am reading your post correctly, you want MORE investigations of right wing conspiracies and ignoring the evidence laid out in the Mueller Report??? I thought Trump’s attempt of “limiting the Mueller investigation to crimes in future elections” (page 91 of Volume II of Mueller report) was bizarre, but you might equal Trump logic. RW conspiracies were debunked by EIGHT Benghazi congressional committees at taxpayer expense. RW conspiracies on Vince Foster’s death were debunked by THREE Independent Counsel investigations. the DC police department AND the FBI. Seth Rich’s parents had to threaten to sue FOX to get them to… Read more »

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