House Oversight and Reform Committee Chair Elijah Cummings, D-Md., speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, April 2, 2019.
House Oversight and Reform Committee Chair Elijah Cummings, D-Md., speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, April 2, 2019.

The Democratic chairman of the House oversight committee accused the Trump administration of a "massive, unprecedented and growing pattern of 
obstruction" for ordering federal employees not to comply with congressional investigations. 

WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr "are now openly ordering federal employees to ignore congressional subpoenas and simply not show up — without any assertion of a valid legal privilege," Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland said in a statement. 

The Justice Department on Wednesday rebuffed the House Oversight and Reform Committee, which had sought to interview an official involved in the Trump administration's decision to put a citizenship question on the 2020 U.S. Census. 

The department said John Gore, a deputy assistant attorney general in the Civil Rights Division, would not participate in a deposition scheduled for Thursday if he could not have a Justice Department lawyer at his side. The committee had offered to allow a lawyer to sit in a different room. 

Cummings said the subpoena issued to Gore was adopted on a bipartisan basis and that there was no privilege asserted by the White House or Justice Department that would preclude him from appearing. 

"This is a massive, unprecedented and growing pattern of obstruction," Cummings said, warning the federal employees to "think very carefully about their own legal interests" in refusing to comply with the panel's requests.