Rep. Elijah Cummings on Trump oversight: ‘We’ve got to hit the ground flying’

Oversight Committee has already sent more than 50 letters to the White House and federal agencies

House Oversight Committee Chariman Elijah Cummings, D-Md., leaves the House Democrats’ caucus meeting in the Capitol earlier this month. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Elijah Cummings, the new chairman of the House Oversight Committee, stressed in a TV interview Sunday night the urgency of investigating President Donald Trump.

“There’s so much [to investigate],” Cummings said on “60 Minutes.” “We’ve got to hit the ground not running, but flying.”

With his new gavel, Cummings will be able to compel testimony and subpoena documents on a range of issues, including whether the president has used the highest office in the country to enrich himself.

“The average citizen, the guys on my block, they ought to know whether the president is making a deal in his self interest, or that of the country,” the Maryland Democrat said.

Cummings chastised Republicans for blocking subpoena after subpoena when they led the committee in the last Congress.

“Have you ever gotten anything?” the interviewer asked.

“Zero,” Cummings said, making a zero with his hand. “Republicans have become the defense counsel for the president.”

But with Democrats now in the majority in the House, the committee has already sent more than 50 letters to the White House and federal agencies requesting compliance with prior document requests that have drawn Republican cosigners. They seek information on a range of issues including violations of the Emoluments Clause, child separations at the border and the water crisis in Flint, Michigan.

“As Democrats prepare to take the reins in Congress, we are insisting—as a basic first step—that the Trump Administration and others comply with these Republican requests,” Cummings said in a statement.

The day before the 116th Congress was sworn in, the oversight committee nixed “government” from its official name to emphasize that its jurisdiction extends to the private sector. The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is now the Committee on Oversight and Reform.

“We could look at anything,” Cummings stressed on “60 Minutes.” “Anything.”

First up on the schedule: a Jan. 29 hearing on prescription drug prices; a Feb. 6 hearing on a campaign finance and lobbying overhaul (HR 1); and a Feb. 7 hearing with Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer for who has been convicted of campaign finance violations.

Kate Ackley contributed to this report.Watch: Cummings Gets Emotional About Family Separation Policy

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