House Oversight Committee Chair Elijah Cummings (D-MD) is lashing out at the Trump administration for ordering John Gore, the top Justice Department official involved in the push to add a citizenship question to the census, to ignore a subpoena from the committee.
The administration has now urged several officials to ignore subpoenas from House committees, with President Trump arguing that his aides shouldn’t have to cooperate with “partisan” committee probes.
“This is a massive, unprecedented, and growing pattern of obstruction,” Cummings said in a statement Wednesday afternoon. “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. 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 noted that neither the White House nor the Justice Department has asserted privilege that would keep Gore from complying, and he warned administration officials against following the White House’s orders to defy House subpoenas.
“Both President Trump and Attorney General Barr are now openly ordering federal employees to ignore congressional subpoenas and simply not show up—without any assertion of a valid legal privilege,” he said. “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 that the committee would convene for Gore’s scheduled Thursday deposition, hoping that the official decides to cooperate.
The Justice Department ordered Gore to ignore the subpoena after the House Oversight Committee rejected the department’s demand that Gore be accompanied by a DOJ lawyer for the deposition.
The administration had previously ordered former White House counsel Don McGahn and a former official involved in the security clearance process to ignore House subpoenas.