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House panel set to subpoena Kushner, Sessions and 10 others with ties to Trump

  • Author: John Wagner, The Washington Post
  • Updated: July 11, 2019
  • Published July 11, 2019

WASHINGTON - A House panel voted Thursday to subpoena 12 people with connections to President Trump, including his son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner and former attorney general Jeff Sessions, as part of an ongoing investigation into whether Trump obstructed justice or otherwise abused his office.

FILE - In this March 25, 2019, file photo White House adviser Jared Kushner listens during a proclamation signing with President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Diplomatic Reception Room at the White House in Washington. Kushner will present the economic portion of his Mideast peace plan on June 25 in Bahrain, with some key players missing. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

The vote along party lines by the House Judiciary Committee was the latest escalation in a battle between the Democratic-led chamber and the White House over multiple probes of Trump and his administration, including whether the president sought to obstruct the investigation of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

"We will not rest until we obtain their testimony and documents so this committee and Congress can do the work the Constitution and the American people expect of us," Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said at the outset of Thursday's hearing.

Trump lashed out at Democrats ahead of the planned vote, suggesting that they should focus on immigration issues instead.

"Now the Democrats have asked to see 12 more people who have already spent hours with Robert Mueller, and spent a fortune on lawyers in so doing," Trump wrote on Twitter. "How many bites at the apple do they get before working on Border Loopholes and Asylum."

Trump also chided Democrats for plans to hear testimony from Mueller next week about his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible obstruction of the probe by Trump.

"Enough already, go back to work!" Trump said.

Rep. Douglas Collins, R-Ga., the ranking member on the Judiciary Committee, accused Nadler of being on a "subpoena binge."

"Today is the chairman's chance to show he has what it takes and will not wilt when the spotlight is brightest," Collins said. "That's all today's episode is about. It sure isn't about oversight. It's simply about politics."

The Judiciary panel also voted Thursday to subpoena documents related to the Trump administration's "zero-tolerance" policy on migrants entering the country illegally, which led to the separation of thousands of children from their parents in 2018.

The quest for information comes amid an intensified outcry over the treatment of children held in migrant detention centers and a debate over the humanitarian crisis caused by an influx of Central Americans seeking asylum in the United States.

A little more than four months ago, Nadler's committee cast a wide net for documents from an array of 80 individuals and entities, seeking information on a range of inquiries into Trump's administration, campaign, business and personal finances.

Trump has decried House Democrats' probes as "harassment," has largely refused to comply with their requests and has urged associates to ignore subpoenas. Last month, Democrats voted to allow committees to file lawsuits against those who defy congressional subpoenas.

Thursday's vote would allow Nadler to issue the subpoenas at his discretion to try to compel testimony and handing over of documents. He has said he is willing to hold off if information is voluntarily provided.

In addition to seeking subpoenas for Kushner and Sessions, the committee voted to authorize Nadler to summon former White House chief of staff John Kelly; former national security adviser Michael Flynn; former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski; former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein; former White House deputy chief of staff Rick Dearborn; Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt; and former White House staff secretary Rob Porter.

The committee is also seeking to compel testimony related to payments before the 2016 election to women who claimed to have had affairs with Trump years ago.

To that end, the committee voted to authorize subpoenas of Keith Davidson, a former attorney for adult-film star Stormy Daniels, National Enquirer editor Dylan Howard and American Media Inc. chief executive David Pecker. Prosecutors allege that Howard and Pecker were involved in deals to silence Daniels and former Playboy playmate Karen McDougal.

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The Washington Post’s Colby Itkowitz contributed to this report.