Holding the gavel on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee might make Chairman Jason Chaffetz the most subpoena-happy member of Congress.
But the tables were turned Thursday, when the Utah Republican notified the House clerk that he had moved to quash a subpoena issued by the D.C. Superior Court in connection with a criminal case involving an activist for statehood. Chaffetz, ranking member Elijah E. Cummings, D-Md., and the panel's Republican staff director are all fighting subpoena requests for documents and testimony tied to the case. Local activist Adam Eidinger was removed from the panel's markup on a resolution blocking a D.C. law in April after a handful of protesters interrupted proceedings. He was arrested and charged with “unlawful entry,” but has argued he was not part of the disturbance, and vowed to fight the misdemeanor charge.
His case has prompted questions about the process for removing protesters from congressional hearings. During the markup, D.C. activists stood up and chanted “D.C. votes no!” but Eidinger and another woman who were seated next to the demonstrators remained seated. Both Eidinger and the woman were asked to leave the markup, but Eidinger refused. Four Capitol Police officers later carried him out of the room.
"I have determined that the subpoena ... is not a proper exercise of jurisdiction by the court ... seeks information that is not material and relevant and/or ... is not consistent with the rights and privilege of this house, its members, and its employees," Chaffetz stated in his message to the clerk.
Both Cummings and Staff Director Sean McLaughlin stated their intent to quash the subpoenas after consulting with the Office of General Counsel. A committee aide confirmed all three motions were related to Eidinger's case.
House rules require members and employees to notify the speaker of any judicial orders.
Motions in Eidinger's trial are due on Oct. 2.
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