To Elijah Cummings, Donald Trump “is a person who calls a lie ‘the truth’ and the truth ‘a lie.’”
He thinks the president routinely violates the Constitution’s emoluments clause every day.
He sees within the Trump administration a dangerous tolerance for corruption and misconduct.
He also has seen, for the past two years, a Republican Congress that has refused to do its constitutionally-mandated duty of providing checks and balances on the president and his administration.
And according to the 67 year-old congressman from Baltimore, all of that will change when Democrats take charge of the House in January.
When that happens, Elijah Cummings will become the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. This powerful role will give him almost unrestricted subpoena power. He will be able to call as many hearings as he wants on any topic he chooses.
In short, Elijah Cummings could become Donald Trump’s worst nightmare.
Last night, after it became clear that Democrats would win the House majority, Cummings spoke to CNN. He said that he plans to use his new powers and his committee in a methodical way in order to get answers to many unresolved issues which Republicans completely ignored over the past two years.
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) November 7, 2018
He also said he would want to see Trump’s tax returns in order to determine if there are conflicts with the emoluments clause, which prohibits federal officials from receiving gifts from foreign governments without the consent of Congress.
Cummings said he would investigate whether Trump violated the emoluments clause with regards to his business with the Trump International Hotel and the FBI headquarters building in Washington. He said he would would need the tax returns to do his job properly.
“I don’t see how you can look at it, and do a thorough job and do an effective job unless you do. Tax returns may tell you something else — that’s why we would like to see them,” Cummings said.
The Maryland congressman also said he wants to “restore accountability” to the Trump administration as chairman of the Oversight Committee.
“Right now, we have a President who is accountable to no one,” he said, adding that, “My plan is to use the subpoena as a method of last resort.”
Cummings insists he will “work very hard” to approach his chairmanship in a deliberative and bipartisan manner.
“I don’t want people to think we are going to rush in and beat up on Trump,” he said.
There are two main areas he said he plans to investigate:
- One, he said, would be to “defend our democracy,” to look into voting rights and limitations facing under-privileged communities. He said they would also look into matters involving the use of security clearances in the Trump administration — whether it was for ex-aides Michael Flynn and Rob Porter as well as for Jared Kushner, the President’s son-in-law and senior adviser.
- The other area would be day-to-day issues affecting many Americans, such as the high price of prescription drugs and insurance coverage for people with pre-existing conditions — as well as the U.S. Postal Service.
He knows that other committees, such as the House Ways and Means and Financial Services committees will both want to see Trump’s tax returns also.
“I would expect that this week, we will start to get all of that stuff and begin to organize,” Cummings said. “And there will be coordination … The last thing we want to do is step on each other.”
Elijah Cummings will be in charge of oversight in the new Congress, and the last thing Donald Trump wants is any real oversight of their behavior or their financial dealings.