House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) on Wednesday issued a scorching rebuke of President Trump’s Department of Justice (DOJ) for refusing to comply with his committee’s subpoena, alleging that the department is engaging in “a massive, unprecedented, and growing pattern of obstruction.”
“Yesterday, President Trump declared to the entire country that he would obstruct Congress and order all White House officials to defy lawful subpoenas from Congress,” Cummings said in a statement.
“Today, the Trump Administration went even further by expanding this policy to employees at federal agencies — even when the subpoenas are bipartisan and supported by Republican Members of Congress.”
Cummings was responding to a DOJ letter informing him that justice department official John Gore would not testify Thursday about the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 census as requested in the subpoena.
Cummings noted that neither the DOJ nor the White House had cited any privilege that would prevent Gore from being able to testify as part of the investigation.
“As an officer of the court and a senior lawyer in a position of public trust at the Department of Justice, Mr. Gore should be well aware of his constitutional, legal, and ethical obligations to comply with a duly authorized subpoena from Congress,” Cummings said Wednesday. “Those obligations have not been erased by the Attorney General or the President.”
“Committee investigators will gather tomorrow morning for this deposition — as scheduled — and we hope Mr. Gore will fulfill his legal and ethical responsibilities and appear as ordered.”
The chairman also claimed that Trump and Attorney General William Barr “are now openly ordering federal employees to ignore congressional subpoenas and simply not show up — without any assertion of a valid legal privilege.”
“These employees and their personal attorneys should think very carefully about their own legal interests rather than being swept up in the obstruction schemes of the Trump Administration,” Cummings said.
The statement comes just hours after Trump told reporters that he will “fight all the subpoenas” issued by the House.