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House committees to issue subpoenas over security clearances, Mueller report

Although it's the beginning of a new month, recent partisan tensions on Capitol Hill show no sign of subsiding. Democrats in the House Oversight Committee are investigating Trump administration practices around granting security clearances, while the House Judiciary Committee plans to authorize subpoenas related to the Mueller report. John Yang talks to Lisa Desjardins for details.

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  • John Yang:

    In Washington, tensions continue between Congress and investigations of the Trump White House. The House Democrats are to issue subpoenas in the coming days, as the Oversight Committee investigates the Trump administration's security clearance process and the Judiciary Committee seeks the full Mueller report.

    Congressional correspondent Lisa Desjardins joins me here to explain all this.

    Let's start with what may be the lesser known investigation, the security clearances.

    What do the Democrats on the House Oversight Committee want? And, actually, we have learned a little more about this in the past day or so.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    That's exactly right.

    Just this morning, the House Democrats from that Oversight Committee said, we're going to start authorizing subpoenas starting tomorrow, so Tuesday.

    And this all surrounds, at least at the beginning of it, a woman named Tricia Newbold, who still works at the White House and who House Democrats say is an important whistle-blower.

    Let's look at exactly what she's saying in this. It's about the security clearances and who can get them at the White House, who has been able to get them.

    First, she alleges that there were 25 clearances given to officials, against the recommendations of her and her colleagues. She does these reviews, and she says there were serious concerns, from criminal offenses to foreign influence, that she said should have rejected these clearances. Instead, they were given.

    She also says that the White House at some point, in her words, says the committee, stopped doing credit checks for anyone applying to the White House, which is something new and something quite eye-popping.

    Now, republicans in a dueling memo, say, these charges are exaggerated and that Democrats have cherry-picked her testimony. It is only behind closed doors, John, so we don't really know exactly what she said.

    One reason this is a such concern, two names, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump. There is reporting that Jared's clearance was one of those that was initially rejected and somehow ended up being cleared. There are a lot of questions about this. Of course, I called the White House. They said they will not comment on this because it is a security issue, at least not yet.

  • John Yang:

    So that's the House Oversight Committee.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Yes.

  • John Yang:

    The House…

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Just one.

  • John Yang:

    Just one.

    The House Judiciary Committee is also preparing subpoenas of their own, these over the Mueller report.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Right.

    This is something we have all been talking about for a while. And it's interesting, because the House Judiciary Committee said, we want that report by April 2. That's tomorrow. But yet they don't think they will get it. The attorney general has said, no, I need more time. I'm not giving it to you yet.

    So what are they doing? They are saying that they will also issue some subpoenas. Let's talk about what they're saying. That is Chairman Jerry Nadler of the committee. He's going to issue those subpoenas — authorize subpoenas Wednesday.

    What they want, the full report and all of the documents going with it, including, John, grand jury testimony, which is generally something that is never released. They argue there is a precedent here. They point where? To Watergate. And, at that point, the special prosecutor in the Watergate case did get that kind of material released to Congress.

    Republicans say, that's a terrible precedent, and that that release in that case was a mistake. We're going to see this legal debate play out very, very strongly in the next couple days.

  • John Yang:

    Lisa Desjardins, thanks very much.

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