“Over the last two years President Trump set the tone from the top in his administration that behaving ethically and complying with the law is optional,” House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings told Politico. House Republicans did just about everything possible to enable that ethic in the Trump era, but the free-for-all is over.
Democrats are planning to investigate, hold hearings, and issue subpoenas when necessary on everything from Trump-Russia collusion, Trump’s business interests and taxes, Trump administration corruption and personnel issues, Trump administration/White House policies concerning health care, immigration, education, trade, and the environment, among others. By Democrats’ own admission, it will be a head-spinning exercise in both transparency and public education.
The chair of the House Budget Committee, Rep. John Yarmuth of Kentucky, used to joke that they would need an air traffic control tower to track “all the subpoenas flying from here to the White House,” but he added, “it’s not funny anymore.”
The first person Rep. Cummings plans to call before the Oversight Committee is Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who appears to have lied to Congress about the impetus for adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census that experts warned would decrease participation. Ross originally said the Justice Department needed the question in order to better enforce the Voting Rights Act, but internal correspondence suggests Ross wanted the 1950s era-question to be reinstated and only then concocted a reason to do it.
Here are some other people who are high on the hearing list: acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, former Interior Department head Ryan Zinke, and former EPA administrator Scott Pruitt.
But really, that’s all just the tip of the iceberg. Before it’s all over, expect news outlets to create spreadsheets tracking the investigations, subpoenas issued, and who’s testified—similar to what has resulted from the Russia probe.