Top House Democrat demands Trump administration produce documents

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The top Democrat on the U.S. House of Representatives Oversight Committee sent 10 letters on Wednesday to Trump administration officials demanding documents, setting the stage for congressional investigations expected to begin in January.

FILE PHOTO: Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) speaks after a briefing by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein for members of the House of Representatives to discuss the firing of former FBI Director James Comey on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., May 19, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Representative Elijah Cummings, who will become chairman of the House Oversight Committee in January when Democrats take majority control of the chamber, wrote to officials repeating requests that had already been made in conjunction with Republicans, but that the administration did not comply with.

Cummings gave the administration until Jan. 11 to comply. When he becomes committee chairman, he will be able to subpoena the documents.

“Many of these requests were bipartisan, and some are now more than a year old. As Democrats prepare to take the reins in Congress, we are insisting — as a basic first step — that the Trump Administration and others comply,” Cummings said in a statement to Reuters.

The letters cover a range of topics including separation of immigrant children from their parents, the federal response to the hurricane in Puerto Rico, lead poisoning of the water in Flint, Michigan, and travel by White House staff and cabinet secretaries.

The letters indicated the committee will press the administration on these issues, as well as topics involving Trump’s personal finances and his family.

In a letter to Trump’s business the Trump Organization and his attorney Sheri Dillon, Cummings asked for details about payments from foreign governments to the president’s hotels. Democrats have charged that Trump has been violating the emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution by profiting through his businesses from payments from foreign governments for hotel rentals.

In a different letter, Cummings asked White House counsel Pat Cipollone to provide information about the use of private emails by administration staff, citing use of private emails by Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter, and her husband Jared Kushner, both senior advisers to the president.

Cummings asked the Environmental Protection Agency for documents about former administrator Scott Pruitt’s travel and expenses, and to Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta seeking information about document preservation at his agency.

The White House did not immediately return a request for comment.

Reporting by Ginger Gibson; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Jeffrey Benkoe

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