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House Dems threaten no salaries for commerce, justice officials who block interviews

House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings
Rep. Elijah Cummings. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The House Oversight Committee on Tuesday threatened to withhold the salaries of officials at the departments of the Interior and Commerce if anyone "prohibits or prevents" interviews involved in 2 ongoing investigations.

"The Department does not appear to recognize that Congress is an independent and co-equal branch of government that will determine its own investigative steps without undue interference or delay by the Department."
— House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings letter to Cole Rojewski, DOI's director of congressional and legislative affairs

Details: Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings sent letters requesting transcribed interviews with 8 current and former officials. In his letter to Cole Rojewski, director of congressional and legislative affairs at the Interior Department, Cummings detailed the numerous times the House committee has requested documents and interviews from the DOI. The requests have gone unanswered or arbitrary unrequested documents were sent instead.

Background:

  • There has been an ethical investigation looking into alleged complaints about "conflicts of interest and other violations" in regard to Interior Department Secretary David Bernhardt, a former oil lobbyist.
  • House Democrats are investigating the citizenship question the Department of Justice wants added to the 2020 Census, with opponents citing anti-immigration sentiments and political motivations from the Trump administration.