Now that Democrats control the House of Representatives, they can use their new subpoena power to function as a check on President Donald Trump.
Observers say the Democratic victory could not have come at a better time, given that Trump ousted Attorney General Jeff Sessions one day after the midterms.
Not only could Sessions be one of the witnesses Democrats call to testify in the House Russia investigation once they relaunch it, but his willingness to cooperate with investigators may also have gone up following his dismissal.
“For two years, the Trump Administration has been able to operate without any check-and-balance on their affairs,” a former spokesperson for Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee told INSIDER. “Now, every meeting, email, appointment … is subject to congressional oversight. This will have a seismic effect on the Trump Administration.”
One of the defining features of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives over the last two years has been to protect President Donald Trump from scrutiny over his campaign’s contacts with Russia-linked individuals during the 2016 election.
On Tuesday, Democrats flipped the House following the midterm elections and effectively cut off that buffer.
Many Trump critics say the timing couldn’t have been better, because the very next day, Trump ousted embattled Attorney General Jeff Sessions and replaced him with a hardline loyalist who has publicly railed against Special Counsel Robert Mueller and speculated about how to gut the Russia investigation.
In the wake of Sessions’ dismissal, perhaps the most crucial weapon at Democrats’ disposal is the ability to subpoena documents and witnesses relevant to any pending or future investigations into the executive branch.
Sessions has long been one of the central figures in the congressional and FBI Russia probes. Legal experts told INSIDER that not only could Sessions become one of the witnesses Democrats call to testify, but his willingness to cooperate with investigators may also have increased following his removal.
Kurt Bardella, a former spokesperson for Republicans on the powerful House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, didn’t mince words when discussing the importance of subpoena power.
“The Democrats gaining subpoena authority is the most consequential effect of the elections,” Bardella told INSIDER. “When Republicans started the inquiry into Benghazi, they had no idea it would lead to the discovery that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was using a private email server. Imagine how different the 2016 campaign would have been if ‘Hillary’s emails’ had not been an issue.”
The House Oversight Committee has already compiled a list of 64 subpoenas and inquiries looking into Trump administration activities that Democrats say Republicans didn’t allow them to investigate before.
And a Democratic source close to the House Intelligence Committee told INSIDER that issuing subpoenas to individuals and entities they were previously barred from contacting will be central to Democrats’ game plan once they start reopening investigative threads in the panel’s Russia investigation that they say Republicans ignored.
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Source:: Business Insider