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House Democrats vote to expand committee leaders' power to enforce subpoenas

By Nicholas Sakelaris & Daniel Uria
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House Democrats vote to expand committee leaders' power to enforce subpoenas
The House passed a resolution to allow House committees to go to court to enforce subpoenas on Trump administration officials to testify regarding the Mueller Report and other investigations. Photo by Mike Theiler/UPI | License Photo

June 11 (UPI) -- The House voted Tuesday in favor of empowering committee leaders to enforce subpoenas on White House officials.

The Democratically controlled House voted 229-191 along party lines to pass the resolution to authorize the House judiciary committee to go to federal court to enforce the subpoenas, explicitly mentioning Attorney General William Barr and former White House counsel Don McGahn.

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For weeks, Democratic lawmakers have demanded access to key evidence from the investigation of special counsel Robert Mueller that was redacted from the final report -- threatening to enforce subpoenas for cooperation from Barr and McGahn, who each declined to appear in Congress to testify on the matter.

The vote came one day after House Democrats struck a deal with the Justice Department to see evidence from its Russia investigation.

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House Democrats originally intended to vote Tuesday on whether to hold Barr and McGahn in contempt of Congress. After Monday's deal, however, they decided to vote only on the motion authorizing the panel to go to federal court, if necessary, to enforce subpoenas if cooperation from Barr and the department doesn't last.

McGahn refused to testify last month or hand over documents requested by the House, in defiance of the subpoena. Both he and Barr refused to cooperate at the direction of the White House.

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House Democrats are seeking more information on whether President Donald Trump obstructed justice during Mueller's investigation. The final report outlined several "episodes" in which investigators said the president may have obstructed justice. In his only remarks since taking charge of the inquiry, Mueller said last month his team had no authorization to take action against Trump on the issue.

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"If the department proceeds in good faith and we are able to obtain everything that we need, then there will be no need to take further steps," House judiciary committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said Monday. "If important information is held back, then we will have no choice but to enforce our subpoena in court and consider other remedies."

Monday, Nadler's panel heard testimony from former White House counsel John Dean, who served under former President Richard Nixon. Dean drew parallels between Nixon and Trump in his testimony.

"In many ways the Mueller report is to President Trump what the so-called Watergate 'Road Map' ... was to President Nixon," said Dean, whose 1973 Senate testimony severely hampered Nixon's ability to get out from under the Watergate scandal.

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"I learned about obstruction of justice the hard way, by finding myself on the wrong side of the law," he added.

Later Monday, Trump lashed out at Dean and Democrats who continue to push for evidence of obstruction of justice that could ultimately be used to try and remove the president from office through impeachment.

"No Collusion - No Obstruction!" Trump repeated. "Democrats just want a do-over which they'll never get!"

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