House Oversight Committee serves subpoenas in security clearance, census probes

The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform announced Tuesday evening that it served four subpoenas into its probes into White House security clearances and the administration’s efforts to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. 

Rep. Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsCongressional investigation finds Coast Guard leadership fell short on handling bullying Trump request for Ukrainian 'favor' tops notable quote list Impeachment can't wait MORE (D-Md.), the chairman of the oversight panel, served a subpoena to White House Personnel Security Director Carl Kline after a whistleblower told the committee’s staff she and other career officials were overruled in 25 cases to grant clearances to officials and contractors despite concerns of "disqualifying issues" in their backgrounds.

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“We have been informed of grave breaches of national security, but to date the White House has not produced a single piece of paper or a single witness requested by the Committee," cummings said in a statement. "I hope this is the last subpoena we need to issue on this topic and that the White House agrees to cooperate, to schedule interviews for the next four officials we want to interview, and to turn over the documents we have been seeking for months."

Cummings has accused the White House of obstructing the committee’s investigation into the security clearances and said that while Kline had initially offered to appear before the panel voluntarily, he refused to discuss certain topics, which Cummings said was unacceptable.

The Maryland Democrat first launched the panel’s probe into White House security clearances in January after reports that White House officials were concerned about the clearances for Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerTrump hosts pastor who says 'Jews are going to hell' at White House Hanukkah party Mark Levin calls Trump 'first Jewish president' Kushner pens NY Times piece defending Trump order combating anti-Semitism MORE, and others.

The oversight committee also approved Tuesday three subpoenas into the administration’s desire to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

“The Committee is trying to determine the real reason Secretary Ross added the citizenship question, and the documents and testimony covered by these subpoenas are critical to answering that question. We don’t want thousands of pieces of paper that are already public or extensively redacted. We want the specific priority documents we asked for—unredacted and in full,” Cummings said. 

“We have bent over backwards to try to work with the Administration. We identified priority documents, we extended deadlines, and we even offered to review certain documents in camera. But the Trump Administration’s stonewalling has left the Committee no choice but to obtain this information by compulsory process.”

The subpoenas were served to Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Gore, Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrHolder rips into William Barr: 'He is unfit to lead the Justice Department' Five takeaways on Horowitz's testimony on Capitol Hill Budowsky: Would John McCain back impeachment? MORE for documents and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossPelosi gets standing ovation at Kennedy Center Honors Space race is on: US can't afford congressional inaction in this critical economic sector Trump escalates fight over tax on tech giants MORE. Gore was subpoenaed for testimony, while Barr and Ross were subpoenaed for documents. 

The Commerce Department told The Associated Press that it delivered more than 11,000 pages of documents to the panel relating to its request. It noted that Ross also testified on the issue at a March 14 hearing, adding that the department has cooperated with the panel and would do so in the future.

Ross has said the addition of the question to the census came in response to a Justice Department request that said it would help the enforcement of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. However, Cummings said records contradict that claim and that Ross’s agency pushed for the citizenship question’s addition. 

Critics say the administration seeks to use the question to undercount immigrant communities and possibly reduce their resources and representation in Congress.