The House Judiciary Committee voted on Thursday to authorize subpoenas for 12 crucial witnesses as part of House Democrats’ ongoing investigations targeting President Donald Trump.
On a party-line vote, the committee empowered Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) to issue subpoenas to current and former Trump administration officials who were central figures in former special counsel Robert Mueller’s 22-month investigation of Russian contacts with the Trump campaign.
The subpoena list also includes Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, in addition to some of Mueller’s key witnesses: former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, former national security adviser Michael Flynn, former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and former White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter.
The panel also authorized subpoenas for executives of American Media Inc., which was involved in hush-money payments to women who alleged that they had affairs with Trump. Nadler has not indicated when or whether he’ll issue the subpoenas.
“We will not rest until we obtain their testimony and documents so this committee and Congress can do the work that the Constitution and the American people expect of us,” Nadler said.
Trump ripped the Judiciary Committee’s move early Thursday on Twitter, erroneously stating that Mueller concluded there was “no collusion, no obstruction.” He also accused Democrats of wasting time.
“Enough already, go back to work!” he said.
The committee also approved subpoenas for documents and testimony from unnamed administration officials related to the “zero tolerance” policy at the southern border, which has led to the separation of migrant families.
The Judiciary Committee — which will hear testimony from Mueller next week — has been investigating obstruction of justice allegations against the president, but the subpoenas for AMI executives David Pecker and Dylan Howard represent an expansion of the committee’s inquiry to include the hush-money payments.
In addition to Pecker and Howard, the list includes Keith Davidson, who was adult-film actress Stormy Daniels’ attorney while she was negotiating the terms of a $130,000 hush-money payment. Michael Cohen, Trump’s former attorney and fixer, is serving a three-year prison sentence in part for orchestrating that payment, which was found to be a campaign-finance violation.
Nadler will also have the authority to subpoena Corey Lewandowski, who served as Trump’s campaign manager but never worked in the White House, making it easier for the committee to subvert the White House’s efforts to block current and former officials’ compliance with the panel’s subpoenas.
Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, accused Democrats of a “premature subpoena authorization.”
“In the world of congressional oversight, these subpoenas make no sense at all, but in the world of politics, this markup makes perfect sense,” he said.
Other Republicans used the meeting to vent about the strict constraints that members are poised to face during next week’s hearing with Mueller. Though the logistics for the high-stakes hearing are in flux, Judiciary Committee leaders are eyeing a format in which only 11 members on each side of the aisle get to question Mueller, excluding the committee’s more junior members.
“Next week we’re going to be questioning Robert Mueller, and I don’t even get a chance to question him? This is just plain wrong,” said Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.). “I’ve been elected just like everybody else here.”
Collins, too, ripped the tentative hearing format.
“We’re having our legs cut out from under us,” he said.