House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) said he and his colleagues are considering reviving an old rule that would allow Congress to charge fines to enforce subpoenas.
“Much as I like the visual of (throwing people in jail), I think it’s far more practical to consider levying individual fines on the person — not on the office — until they comply. Courts use that practice, I think it’s quite successful,” Schiff told Axios Mike Allen. “You could fine someone $25,000 a day until they comply and that will probably get their attention. … You can do that. We’re looking through the history and studying the law to make sure we’re on solid ground.”
The White House has effectively stonewalled House Democrats’ oversight subpoenas. According to Axios, Schiff said Democratic leadership might have to think outside the box and take “extraordinary” action to make sure Congress’ authority is upheld.
“At the end of the day this isn’t just about this president, this isn’t just about these documents, it is whether Congress is a co-equal branch, a co-equal power that can enforce oversight,” he said. “Because if we can’t, it means any future president can act as corruptly or malfeasant as they want. And there’s simply no accountability.”
The House Judiciary Committee voted on Wednesday to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress over his handling of the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested the House might vote to hold others in contempt as well.