Democrats Are About to Make It Easier to Take Trump Aides to Court

It's an attempt to get answers from administration officials who are ignoring Congressional subpoenas.
White House aides contempt Trump

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High-profile members of the Trump administration have been dragging their feet and flat-out ignoring congressional subpoenas, hamstringing Democrats’ efforts to learn more about the Mueller report and the push to add a citizenship question to the Census. Democrats have a plan to stop that.

House Democrats will vote early next week on a resolution that would make it easier to force Trump administration officials to appear in court for failing to comply with congressional subpoenas. It would also make it easier to find them in contempt of Congress.


It’s a key bit of angling from Democrats, considering numerous current and former Trump administration officials — including Attorney General William Barr, former White House counsel Donald McGahn, and former White House Communications Director Hope Hicks — have ignored congressional subpoenas.

The resolution would authorize civil enforcement of subpoenas in federal court and allow the Office of General Counsel of the House to represent the House in pursuing the litigation. The House Rules Committee is expected to consider the proposal on Monday and the full House is expected to vote on Tuesday.

“We will not allow this president and his administration to turn a blind eye to the rule of law,” Rep. James McGovern (D-Mass.), the chairman of the House Rules Committee, said in a statement. “This resolution will allow Congress to hold the president accountable while this Democratic Majority continues delivering on issues like health care and jobs.”

While some media outlets reported that the vote would declare Barr and McGahn in contempt for not turning over information related to the Mueller report, the New York Times reported that the resolution would expedite the path to court without using the word “contempt.”

The Times noted, however, that lawmakers were still calling it a “contempt” vote and that practically speaking, the shift doesn’t change much. Holding the witness in contempt would allow them to refer the Justice Department for prosecution — which it would almost certainly not do, since Barr is their boss.

The Washington Post reported Thursday night that the House Oversight Committee was likely to hold Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress over a refusal to turn over information regarding the decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census.

House Democrats are hoping to show Trump administration officials that they’d be willing to exhaust all options to get them to comply, Time reported. An aide told the magazine the goal was to “address the historically unprecedented never before in America history stonewalling.”

Cover: In this March 29, 2018, file photo, President Donald Trump poses for members of the media with then White House Communications Director Hope Hicks on her last day before he boards Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington. Hicks is taking on a similar role at the new Fox company, meaning she'll supervise messaging at her former boss' favorite television network. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)