Trump administration officials and staffers who protect the president by disobeying subpoenas should be fined up to $25,000, suggests California Democrat Adam Schiff.
As The Telegraph reports, Schiff, who is the Chair of the House Intelligence Committee, is losing patience with the Trump administration. Already various Congressional committees, including his own, have subpoenaed various documents from the administration, as well as summoned administration officials to testify, and have been stymied at almost every turn.
For example, the White House has resisted Congressional attempts to get a hold of complete, un-redacted copies of the Mueller report as well as documents requested of former White House lawyer Don McGahn. Similarly, Donald Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., has also been subpoenaed and, as The Hill reports, is being encouraged to simply refuse to answer questions.
Schiff says that if the administration is going to stifle attempts at Congressional oversight, then the legislative body will have no choice but to hold those who fail to comply in contempt of Congress. In fact, he’s convinced that he will, in fact, bring contempt charges against Trump officials as he doubts they’re going to willingly turn on the president.
“I don’t know how many are going to want to take that risk for Donald Trump. But we’re going to have to use that device if necessary.”
Rep. Adam Schiff says House Democrats are considering fines on Trump administration officials in order to enforce contempt actions: "I think it's far more practical to consider levying individual fines on the person — not the office — until they comply" https://t.co/ppUiSUanab pic.twitter.com/wrtRJT1fVO— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) May 13, 2019
In order for Congress to hold a person in contempt, reports NBC News, a voting member of either the House of Representatives or the Senate must introduce a contempt resolution. It will then be voted on by that chamber, and that chamber only. If a majority votes to hold the person in contempt, then the person is referred to the attorney general of the District of Columbia for criminal proceedings.
Contempt of Congress is a misdemeanor criminal offense, but it’s rarely invoked and even more rarely criminally prosecuted. For example, in 1982, the House voted in favor of a contempt citation against EPA Administrator Anne Gorsuch, but the Justice Department declined to prosecute.
Schiff believes the full weight of the law should be brought down on Trump administration officials who are found in contempt, fining them up to $25,000 per day in which they’re not compliant with Congress’s demands and even putting them in jail.
“We’re going to have to use the power of the purse if necessary. We’re going to have to enforce our ability to do oversight.”
As of this writing, the White House has not returned requests for comment on this issue.