Cummings blasts ‘unilateral’ subpoenas to DHS officials

The top Democrat on the House oversight committee is blasting “unilateral” Republican subpoenas compelling testimony by key Obama administration officials, describing seemingly erratic behavior by oversight Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa who wavered, then ultimately subpoenaed the administration.

Calling the California Republican’s recent subpoena actions “hasty and ill-advised,” Rep. Elijah Cummings demanded more coordination between Republicans and Democrats in line with Issa’s vow to consult Democrats on whether his subpoenas are “nuts.”

“Despite this promise, your record is now 0 for 3, and this has resulted in confused, rushed, and unnecessary subpoenas,” said Cummings.

After Department of Homeland Security Sec. Janet Napolitano snubbed Issa on his first major deadline for documents from the Obama administration in early February – twice – DHS began producing the documents requested by Issa on a “rolling production,” giving Issa the documents as they were found and reviewed by DHS.

However, Cummings says Issa halted the document production Friday after a telephone call with Napolitano, telling DHS officials later that evening to “temporarily suspend efforts to get us documents.”

On Tuesday, however, Issa subpoenaed testimony by key DHS officials on the matter beginning March 7.

Cummings said that, importantly, the subpoenas were signed the day before Issa’s call with Napolitano.

“I was dismayed to learn that you had signed both of these deposition subpoenas on Thursday, February 17—the day before our meeting and before your call with Secretary Napolitano. Your actions create the impression that your decision had already been made,” Cummings said in a Feb. 24 letter.

In holding Issa to a “promise” of coordination, Cummings cited in his letter a remark at a recent committee meeting.

“I will also undoubtedly talk to other members on your side and say, am I nuts?” Issa said.

A spokesman for Issa did not immediately return a request for comment.