Rep. Elijah Cummings, who is set to be chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in the Democratic majority, told CNN that he plans to use his committee in a thorough and methodical way to answer a range of issues that Republicans have ignored.
He also expressed interest in seeking President Trump's tax returns to determine whether there are conflicts with the emoluments clause of the Constitution, which prohibits federal officials from receiving gifts from foreign governments without the consent of Congress.
"We probably will," Cummings told CNN when asked if tax returns could help his investigation into whether Trump violated the emoluments clause, specifically with regards to his business with the Trump International Hotel and the FBI headquarters building in Washington.
"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," he added.
Cummings said he wants to restore "accountability" to the Trump administration as chairman of the 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."
Still, Cummings insisted he would "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.
Cummings said there would be two lanes 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 lane would look at 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, Cummings said.
He said there would be a lot of coordination between the various House committees to ensure there isn't overlap — including on the Trump tax returns, which the House Ways and Means and Financial Services panels both may want as well.
"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."