House Democrats called for the subpoena of documents related to a probe into a “gag rule” of agency employees implemented by the Trump administration.
Reps. Elijah Cummings of Maryland and Gerald E. Connolly of Virginia called for House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., to subpoena the Department of Health and Human Services. The subpoena would call for all documents requested by the committee as part of an investigation into whether the Trump administration violated a federal whistleblower law.
Cummings is the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee and Connolly the top Democrat on the government operations subcommittee.
The letter focuses on reports in January 2017 that the Trump administration restricted employee communications for multiple agencies, including communications with Congress. Cummings and Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., wrote to the HHS on Jan. 26 to White House counsel Don McGahn, noting that the restrictions violate a host of federal whistleblower laws.
Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., head of the House Freedom Caucus, also wrote to HHS in February 2017 asking for information on the department's nondisclosure agreements after reports that HHS issued a gag order that included communications with Congress.
In May 2017, former Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz and Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, wrote to HHS seeking an internal memo that they said could chill “protected disclosures of waste, fraud and abuse.”
Now Cummings and Connolly want Gowdy to issue a subpoena to force HHS to produce the documents that were requested.
They ask that if he declines, he allow committee members to vote on a motion for the committee to issue the subpoena.
Gowdy's office did not comment on the letter.