Last Tuesday, June 12, 2019, the House of Representatives passed a resolution that empowers House Committee Chairpersons to legally enforce subpoenas on witnesses who refuse to appear before committee hearings. The resolution is viewed as the House’s most forceful act in order to thwart the Trump administration’s continuing effort to stonewall House Committee investigations.
Democratic Representative Jerrold Nadler and Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee announced that it has become necessary for them to have the blanket authority to go to court to federally enforce subpoenas. Arrogant rejections of subpoenas on orders of the present executive administration, is tantamount to a mockery of the power of the House and of the entire Congress. A blanket authority eliminates the need for House Committees to seek separate floor votes every time they need to enforce committee-issued subpoenas on non-compliant witnesses.
The main and immediate targets of Chairman Nadler’s new authority are Dept. of Justice (DoJ) head, Atty. General William Barr and Atty.Donald McGahn, a former White House legal counsel. The two individuals defied orders to appear at House Judiciary Committee hearings, to shed further light on Trump’s alleged obstructions of justice to prevent furthering investigations on Russia’s 2016 election interference.
The resolution gives all other House Committee Chairs the authority to bring their subpoena to a federal court to make them legally enforceable. The resolution is critical to Congress’ power to investigate, in the event that the Congressional House proceed with impeachment hearings in relation to the obstruction of justice acts mentioned in the Mueller Report.
House Judiciary Committee Decides to Defer Legal Action vs DoJ at the Moment
Prior to the passing of the resolution, Rep. Jerry Nadler was able to enforce from the DoJ, the submission of key evidence on which Special Counsel Mueller based his reports of obstruction of justice acts committed by President Donald Trump.
Although Rep. Nadler had to negotiate for weeks before the DoJ agreed to comply, the Judiciary Committee will put the legal enforcement on AG Barr off the table at the moment. The committee intends to first focus their attention on the evidence that the DoJ will submit , which according to the Judiciary Committee Chair includes
“interview notes, firsthand accounts of presidential misconduct and such other critical evidences collected from current and former White House officials.”