House Financial Services Committee ranking member Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., asks a question of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, during a hearing Wednesday, June 27, 2018, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

 

Investigative journalist Sara Carter reported that House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings and House Finance Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters allegedly “executed a secret Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to “target” President Trump and subpoena all his financial and banking records.”

Carter obtained a copy of a letter from Rep. Jim Jordan, ranking member of the Oversight Committee, sent to Cummings on Monday.

She reports that, “The letter also indicates that other MOUs have apparently been signed and agreed to with House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Ca, who has promised to continue investigations into the president despite findings by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office that there was no conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia.”

A congressional official with knowledge of the MOUs told Carter, “We’d describe (the MOUs) as an agreement to conspire and coordinate their efforts to attack and investigate POTUS. This is not how committee’s normally operate. Dems aren’t interested in legislating. Only attacking POTUS.”  

In his letter to Cummings, Jordan condemned the secret MOUs and wrote that Democrats:

Did not consult with Republican Members of the Committee or allow Members to consider and debate the terms of your MOU before executing the MOU with Chairwoman Waters. You did not disclose the MOU’s existence to Members or the American people until after I raised the matter.

If you intend to continue to use the Committee’s limited resources to attack President Trump for political gain, I hope that you will at least be transparent about your actions. Your ability to function as a fair and unbiased finder of fact is now at grave risk. The Members of the Committee—and, more importantly, the American citizens we represent—deserve to know exactly how you are leading this Committee. I look forward to your detailed answers to these questions.

Questions for Cummings
  1. How many MOUs with committee chairpersons have you signed as Chairman since the beginning of the 116th Congress?

  2. Would you provide the Committee with a detailed list of the other MOUs you have signed, including their dates, signatories, and topics?

  3. Why did you not publicly disclose that you had signed MOUs with committee chairpersons?

  4. Will you publicly disclose all the MOUs you have signed as Chairman since the beginning of the 116th Congress?

  5. Why did you choose not to consult with any Republican Members before signing these MOUs?

  6. Have you signed any MOUs as Chairman with any entities outside of the House Representatives relating to the Committee’s oversight or legislative work?

  7. To the extent your MOUs create duties for the Committee that conflict with the Rules of the House of Representatives or the Rules of the Committee, which duties prevail?

  8. The Rules of the Committee for the 116th Congress do not authorize the Chairman to bind the Committee through an MOU.[2]Could you explain the specific authority that allows you to bind the Committee through an MOU without first obtaining approval through a vote of the Committee?

  9. As I understand your MOU with Chairwoman Waters, you have committed to sharing Committee information with the Financial Services Committee. This provision of your MOU may conflict with Rules of the House of Representatives and the Committee’s whistleblower protocol, which requires the Committee to keep some Committee information confidential. Will you still protect the confidentiality of whistleblower information notwithstanding your apparent obligation to share it with the Financial Services Committee?

  10. As I understand your MOU with Chairwoman Waters, you have agreed to consult with her before issuing a subpoena. Do you intend to consult with Chairwoman Waters before or after you consult with me, as required by Committee Rules? If I object to your proposed subpoena, do you intend to consult with Chairwoman Waters before or after the Committee votes, as you promised in the Committee’s organizing meeting?

  11. As I understand your MOU with Chairwoman Waters, you have declined to include any provision protecting the Minority’s rights to documentary or testimonial information. Can you guarantee that Minority Members will have the same access to documentary or testimonial information under this MOU as we do in every other Committee inquiry?

None of us can possibly be shocked by this. Most of the Committee chairs have stated their plans to pursue Trump publicly and have already begun.

Although I’m unfamiliar with MOUs, it certainly doesn’t sound like business as usual in the United States House of Representatives. It sounds more like an agreement between mobsters.

What does surprise me is that lawmakers would put these agreements in writing. It’s almost as though they know they’re all snakes and they don’t trust each other. Imagine that.