The flagrant disregard for our democratic institutions displayed by the Republican Party continues to spiral out of control. Thankfully for the American people, the Democrats have real power to hold them accountable due to the most recent midterms which saw control of the House of Representatives flip.
It’s that power that House Oversight and Reform Committee Elijah Cummings (D-MD) is now bringing to bear with his decision today to pen letters to eight different current and former Trump administration officials from the Departments of the Interior, Commerce, and Justice, demanding that the individuals in question hand over information crucial to two of the committee’s ongoing investigations. If they refuse the interviews, Cummings is threatening to see that their salaries are withheld.
“Please be advised that any official at the Department who ‘prohibits or prevents’ or ‘attempts or threatens to prohibit or prevent’ any officer or employee of the Federal Government from speaking with the Committee could have his or her salary withheld pursuant to section 713 of the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act,” wrote Cummings.
The power move comes in part as retaliation for increasingly bold moves on the part of the White House, with Trump himself stating that he intends to fight the lawful subpoenas tooth and nail. Just today it was revealed that the White House has directed former White House Counsel Don McGahn to simply ignore Congressional document subpoenas.
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The move is brazen, even by Trumpian standards and moves us ever closer to a full-blown constitutional crisis. The president is actively undermining our systems of checks and balances, all in the interest of personal gain.
While it’s still unclear how effective Cummings’s new salary gambit will prove to be, it’s a smart decision given that most of the people serving in this vile administration are interested only in money and power. By threatening the former, the Chairman might be able to pry a little of the latter from them.