The House Judiciary Committee’s Democratic chairman has decided not to shut out Republicans from the subpoena process the way the GOP, when it was in charge of the committee, blindsided Democrats.
The move, first reported by Politico, to restore bipartisanship on the committee was signaled at a committee organizational meeting last week, where Chairman Jerrold Nadler indicated that he would give committee Republicans a two-day heads up on his intent to subpoena a witness he wished to bring in front of committee. Nadler also assured Republicans that he would put such a subpoena up for a committee vote if the ranking member Doug Collins (R-GA) objected to it.
Collins on Monday wrote a letter thanking Nadler for his pledge to consult Republicans on subpoenas.
“I look forward to continuing to work together in a bipartisan manner and welcome these significant steps,” Collins wrote.
The move towards transparency on the panel is a stark difference from how Republicans handled the committee gavel when they controlled the House. In 2015, GOP lawmakers quietly changed House rules to allow certain committee chairs to issue subpoenas unilaterally, without giving committee Democrats a chance to weigh in.
It’s unclear whether other Democratic committee chairs plan to follow Nadler’s lead in promising to consult their GOP counterparts about subpoenas.
Nadler’s move comes ahead of acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker’s testimony in front of the committee scheduled next month. Nadler wrote Whitaker an outline of certain topic areas the committee planned to ask him, including about special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, and requested that he inform the committee 48 hours in advance of his Feb. 8 appearance whether the administration plans to invoke executive privilege around any of those lines of inquiry.
Whitaker is appearing in front of the committee voluntarily. It remains to be seen whether the committee will subpoena him if he declines to answer certain questions.
Read Collins letter to Nadler below: