New House Oversight chairman willing to battle Trump admin in courts over subpoenas

New House Oversight chairman willing to battle Trump admin in courts over subpoenas
© Greg Nash

House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsBlack lawmakers condemn Trump's 'lynching' remarks The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Better Medicare Alliance - Trump's impeachment plea to Republicans Diplomat who raised Ukraine concerns to testify in Trump impeachment probe MORE (D-Md.) said in an interview broadcast Sunday that he expects some of his subpoena requests may end up in court if the Trump administration does not comply.

Cummings said on "60 Minutes" that he's not heard back from the White House on a litany of document requests related to the administration's response to Hurricane Maria, the handling of its family separation policy at the southern border and misconduct by top government officials, among other subjects.

The top Democrat said he plans to try to work with Republicans on the committee to conduct official investigations, but that he will use subpoenas as necessary.

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"In order to do oversight, you got to have documents," Cummings said. "You got to have emails. You got to have information."

He added that he's prepared for a court battle should the White House reject his subpoena requests or invoke executive privilege.

"One of the interesting things about the courts is that our president has been making sure that some of the most conservative judges are being appointed to the federal bench," Cummings said. "And I think he relies on that, and I think that he assumes that the courts will possibly be, it all depends, be helpful to him."

Democrats officially took over earlier this month as the majority party in the House, raising the likelihood of clashes with the White House.

Lawmakers have indicated they intend to be selective in their use of subpoenas while still conducting more rigorous oversight than the GOP over the past two years.

Cummings announced last week that the president's former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, would publicly testify before the committee on Feb. 7. Cohen was sentenced late last year to three years in prison, and said he committed crimes at Trump's direction.

The president and Republicans have urged Democrats to use their majority to focus on legislating rather than investigating with the White House.