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 CummingsTurkey sanctions face possible wall in GOP Senate Cher offers to pay legal fees for security guard fired for repeating racial slur Baltimore mayor looks to rename downtown courthouse after Cummings 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 KushnerCareer State official warned about Biden's son: report Buttigieg knocks Trump as a 'walking conflict of interest' Biden's weak response to Trump is a lesson for Democratic candidates 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 BarrFederal prosecutors interviewed multiple FBI officials for Russia probe review: report Mulvaney walks back comments tying Ukraine aid to 2016 probe Mulvaney ties withheld Ukraine aid to political probe sought by Trump MORE for documents and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossUS ban on China tech giant faces uncertainty a month out US imposes new sanctions on Cuba over human rights, Venezuela Commerce Department to develop stats on income inequality 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.