White House officials who continue refusing to comply with requests to testify before Congress could face jail time and other reprimands, CNN reports. The testimony of a number of administration officials has been requested, within the scope of congressional attempts to perform oversight over the administration of President Donald Trump. On Thursday, Representative Gerry Connolly, a Virginia Democrat, explicitly called out the threat of jail time in an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.
“And we will use any and all power in our command to make sure it’s backed up — whether that’s a contempt citation, whether that’s going to court and getting that citation enforced, whether it’s fines, whether it’s possible incarceration,” Connolly said. “We will go to the max to enforce the constitutional role of the legislative branch of government.”
Connolly characterized the defiance of congressional subpoenas as something of a constitutional crisis, making the case that failure to heed congressional oversight would jeopardize the balance of the separation of powers. He called the situation “an assault on the legislative branch” and warned against the legislative branch becoming “a pale shadow of what it was intended to be.”
Connolly’s comments came largely in response to the actions of three Trump officials who have refused to testify, reportedly at the direction of the administration.
Three officials have refused to comply with congressional requests to testify. The officials, who are currently defying requests specifically issued from the House Oversight Committee, include senior White House adviser Stephen Miller, former security official Carl Kline, and Justice Department Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Gore.
Miller is being asked to testify about the administration’s controversial immigration politics. Kline has been asked to testify on concerns raised about how security clearances were issued within the White House. Gore is being asked to address the addition of a citizenship question on the United States census.
Using Miller as an example, Connolly indicated that it was Democrats’ intent to learn what the president’s advisor “has in his head” when it comes to the development and execution of the administration’s immigration policies. He went on to describe Miller as Trump’s “immigration whisperer” and said that he and his colleagues were particularly interested in the “zero tolerance” policy at the border, which led to family separations.
“We want to hear from him, what is your thinking, what is it you’ve been advising the President, and where is it you think you’re going to be taking us as a country with these kinds of policies and personnel changes?” he said.