The Department of Justice told the House Oversight Committee in a letter that it won’t comply with its subpoena requiring that an administration official appears for a deposition as part of the Democrats’ investigation into the addition of a citizenship question on the census.
The letter was first obtained by CNN, which reported that this was the second such denial by the Trump administration this week, representing an escalation in tensions between House Democrats and the administration over the numerous Democratic probes into the presidency.
The letter was sent Wednesday to House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings and argued that the official, John Gore, should be allowed to bring a Justice Department attorney as part of its inquiry. The chairman said committee rules did not allow that and rejected the demand, but noted, however, that he would allow a DOJ attorney to sit in a separate room during the deposition scheduled for Thursday.
The department did not accept the offer, which it called insufficient.
“In keeping with longstanding Department of Justice policy, neither Mr. Gore nor anyone else in the Department will be forced to testify in their capacity as a DOJ official on DOJ matters without DOJ counsel,” Justice Department spokesperson Kerri Kupec said.
Cummings responded to the move and said it was just another instance of the department’s “massive, unprecedented, and growing pattern of obstruction.”
“Yesterday, President Trump declared to the entire country that he would obstruct Congress and order all White House officials to defy lawful subpoenas from Congress,” the committee chairman stressed. “Today, the Trump Administration went even further by expanding this policy to employees at federal agencies — even when the subpoenas are bipartisan and supported by Republican Members of Congress.”
He further said that the deposition will take place as scheduled as well as that he hoped “Mr. Gore will fulfill his legal and ethical responsibilities and appear as ordered.”
Democrats want to question Gore, who appeared before the panel last month, about the decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. During his March appearance, Gore refused to answer multiple questions by citing ongoing litigation and shortly after, the committee issued a subpoena for his testimony.