Now that Democrats have formally taken control of the House of Representatives, President Donald Trump will find himself having to comply with investigations into members of his administration.
Representative Elijah Cummings (D-MD), who will chair the House Oversight Committee, has signaled he will launch probes into the Trump administration after taking office on January 3:
“I want to look at all the things the president has done that go against the mandates of our Founding Fathers in the Constitution,” he said. “We need accountability, transparency, integrity, and honesty from this Administration.”
Cummings has wasted no time: His committee has already compiled a list of 64 subpoenas and inquiries into Trump administration activities that were denied when Republicans controlled the chamber. The budget for the Democrats will allow them to hire lawyers and investigators and fill key staffing positions.
The majority will have the power to issue subpoenas and demand records and testimony from administration officials. The majority will also have the power to request the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) turn over Trump's tax returns, which he has made every effort to conceal from public view.
Cummings says that he will not lose sight of issues important to his constituents, such as the high prices of prescription drugs, as he contends with investigating the Trump administration.
"I'm not looking for retribution, life is too short,” he said. While we are dealing with whatever may come in the storm of Trump, I have to keep in mind that there are people who have to live day to day.”
Cummings retained his seat representing Maryland's Seventh District, receiving 76 percent of the vote according to the most up to date returns. He thanked his supporters as the race was called last night.
"I am immensely grateful for the opportunity to continue to serve you," he wrote.
Many agree that Cummings, a noted critic of the administration, will be a "force to be reckoned with" as chair of the Oversight Committee.
Meanwhile, President Trump has indicated that he would complicate matters for Democrats by launching counterinvestigations.
"Two can play that game!" he wrote.
Cummings has long supported Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation and has countered the White House's official position on the firing of James Comey, the former FBI director.
The president fired Comey on May 9, 2017, an action which, many legal experts say, constitutes grounds for an investigation of Trump for possible obstruction of justice. A New York Times report the following Monday revealed that Trump asked Comey to halt the criminal investigation into Michael Flynn, his former national security advisor. (Flynn would later plead guilty to lying to federal investigators about his conversations with Sergey Kislyak, the former Russian ambassador to the United States.)
“I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” Trump told Comey, according to a memo Comey wrote immediately after the meeting, which took place the day after Flynn resigned. “He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”
Comey wrote the memo detailing his conversation with Trump as part of a paper trail documenting the president’s “improper” efforts to impede the continuing investigation.
Cummings has expressed his belief that the president’s “interference was a blatant effort to deny justice, and director Comey was right to document it as it happened in real time.”