WASHINGTON — Democratic lawmakers, set to take control of the House of Representatives for the first time since 2010, said Sunday that they would be reluctant to impeach President Donald Trump or issue blanket subpoenas to his administration, as some of the party’s activists demand.
While the Republican Party controlled both the House and the Senate during Trump’s first two years in office, Democrats will take control of the House in January after willing a majority of seats during the Nov. 6 midterm elections.
That means Democrats will head House committees, which will allow them to demand testimony and documents from administration officials.
Key House Democrats made the rounds of Sunday’s political talk shows, including Jerrold Nadler of New York, who is expected to lead the Judiciary Committee, Adam Schiff of California, who’s likely to lead the Intelligence Committee, and Elijah Cummings of Maryland, who’s expected to run the Oversight Committee.
Nadler said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that protecting the integrity of Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, and possible involvement by members of Trump’s campaign, was the most important among many priorities.
Nadler said he’s not prepared to say the president has obstructed justice in his conduct toward Mueller’s inquiry, but “there’s a lot of evidence to that effect” that will be investigated now that Democrats have power.
Still, while Nadler told CNN that impeachment proceedings against Trump “will come up down the road, maybe,” he said on ABC he’d be “reluctant” unless allegations of wrongdoing “rise to the gravity which would necessitate putting the country through the trauma of an impeachment process.”
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Also on CNN, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York sidestepped a question about whether Democrats should pursue impeachment.
Schiff said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that House Democratic leaders will have to work to make sure investigations don’t cloud other legislative priorities, but “we are going to need to ruthlessly prioritize on the Intel Committee which investigative threads we go down.”
Trump warned at a news conference Nov. 7 of a “warlike posture” should the Democratic House open new investigations. Cummings said Sunday that he’s not going to war with the Trump administration and plans to use subpoena power as a “method of last resort.”
“I’m not going to be handing out subpoenas like somebody’s handing out candy on Halloween,” Cummings said on ABC. “If I have to use them, they will be used in a methodical way and it must be in the public’s interest.”
Cummings said he’ll seek to hold Trump accountable, and among the areas the committee might pursue are questions of whether Trump is violating the Constitution’s emoluments clauses to enrich himself, controversy over a new FBI headquarters in Washington, and perhaps the president targeting Amazon.com and CNN. Trump’s unreleased tax returns could be another Democratic target.