Top Oversight Dem: I won't be issuing subpoenas like 'candy on Halloween'

Top Oversight Dem: I won't be issuing subpoenas like 'candy on Halloween'
© Greg Nash

Rep. Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsFormer GOP congressional candidate Kimberly Klacik suing Candace Owens for defamation Former Cummings staffer unveils congressional bid McCarthy, GOP face a delicate dance on Jan. 6 committee MORE (D-Md.), who is slated to become chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in the new Congress, said on Sunday that he does not plan to issue subpoenas like “candy on Halloween.”

"I'm not one to war with anyone. What I am going to do is do what the American people said they wanted us to do through this election — even in Trump country. They basically are saying that we want transparency, we want honesty, and we want integrity. But they want something else George, they want accountability with regard to this president," Cummings told host George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “This Week.”

“That’s exactly what I’m going to do if I’m blessed to have that opportunity and this is what the Constitution requires of us. We’re going to do our part,” he added.


Cummings said, however, that he will not be "handing out subpoenas" like someone "handing out candy on Halloween.”

“I take subpoenas very seriously. And I plan to, if I have to use them, they will be used in a very methodical way and it must be in the public interest," he said.

The House majority won in last week’s midterms gives Democrats subpoena and investigatory power, posing potential headaches for the White House.

President TrumpDonald TrumpOvernight Defense & National Security — The Pentagon's deadly mistake Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Interior returns BLM HQ to Washington France pulls ambassadors to US, Australia in protest of submarine deal MORE last Wednesday threatened to respond to any House Democratic efforts to investigate the White House, saying he would counter with investigations “at the Senate level.”

"If the Democrats think they are going to waste Taxpayer Money investigating us at the House level, then we will likewise be forced to consider investigating them for all of the leaks of Classified Information, and much else, at the Senate level. Two can play that game!" Trump tweeted.

“We’ve got a lot to do," Cummings said on Sunday, adding that he is “laser-focused” on issues including prescription drug prices and protecting those with pre-existing health conditions.

"But I also want to look at things like the census. We are having some problems right now with regard to the Trump administration wanting to put in a citizenship question, which we know will discourage people from participating in the census," he added later. "Again, we’ve got to look at things like voter suppression. We cannot have a country where we do — where we have — it becomes normal to do everything in Trump’s power to stop people from voting."

Cummings also said he wants to look at possible violations of the emoluments clause of the Constitution, which prohibits elected officials from receiving gifts or benefits from foreign governments without congressional approval. 

"I think there are probably many of them. We want to look at things like the FBI building fiasco where the president injected himself into that debate as to where it would be located — we think for his benefit. We've got to figure out when is he acting on behalf of the American people in a lot of his decisions or is he acting on his own behalf. But there’s something else that we’ve got to do," he said.

"The president has two years left in his term. He spent almost his entire campaign talking about our infrastructure. We have to sit down — he says, he claims he wants to work with us. We need to sit down and address the issue of infrastructure. We’ve got bridges and roads that need to be repaired and we’ve got to do that — and we can do that.

— This report was updated at 10:06 a.m.