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The Journal Gazette

Wednesday, June 12, 2019 1:00 am

Pelosi: 'Not even close' to impeachment

House votes for court enforcement of subpoenas

MARY CLARE JALONICK and LISA MASCARO | Associated Press

WASHINGTON – Brushing back calls for impeachment, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday “it's not even close” to having enough support in the House, while Democrats pushed forward on other fronts to investigate President Donald Trump.

The House voted 229-191 for a resolution that will allow Democrats to accelerate their legal battles with the Trump administration over access to information from the Russia investigation.

At the same time, they're convening hearings this week on special counsel Robert Mueller's report in an effort to boost public interest in the findings of the Trump-Russia probe while digging into a legal strategy aimed at forcing Attorney General William Barr, former White House counsel Don McGahn and others into compliance with congressional oversight.

“We need answers to the questions left unanswered by the Mueller report,” Pelosi said.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy countered that the Democratic maneuvers are all “just a desperate attempt to relitigate the Mueller investigation.” He called it “an impeachment effort in everything but name.”

The House's far-reaching resolution approved Tuesday empowers committee chairs to sue top Trump administration officials to force compliance with congressional subpoenas, including those for Mueller's full report and his underlying evidence. They now no longer need a vote of the full House.

The Judiciary Committee chairman, Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York, urged his colleagues to support the legislation “so we can get into court and break the stonewall without delay.”

After the vote, Nadler said he would go to court “as quickly as possible” against McGahn, who at the behest of the White House has defied subpoenas for documents and his testimony.

The chairman also said he is prepared to go to court to enforce subpoenas against former White House communications director Hope Hicks and Annie Donaldson, a former McGahn aide, if they don't show up for scheduled interviews this month.

And Nadler added new names to the list, saying he is also interested in hearing from Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt, who served as former Attorney General Jeff Sessions' chief of staff, and former White House aide Rick Dearborn. Both are mentioned frequently in the Mueller report.

“Either work with us and comply with subpoenas or we'll see you in court,” said Rep. James McGovern, D-Mass., the chairman of the Rules Committee.

The chairmen of several oversight committees said after the vote that Tuesday's action extends beyond the Russia investigation into other aspects of Trump's administration, including their subpoena for the president's tax returns.