Democrats Take Cautious View of Subpoena Powers as They Ready Investigations

"You have to pick your targets," said House Democrats' top lawyer last time they controlled the chamber

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Alex Wong/Getty Images, File

The most powerful tool available to Democrats taking control of the House next month, the subpoena, is being held in reserve as they build their strategy to investigate the Trump administration, congressional officials in the party involved in decision-making told NBC News.

Subpoena power is hardly a magic wand, according to top lawmakers, aides and former officials, and key committees are said to be planning a more deliberate approach starting with targeted requests for information from Trump officials.

"You have to pick your targets. You have to prioritize and focus on the ones you really need, and where you can win public approval," said Irvin Nathan, House Democrats' top lawyer last time they controlled the chamber.

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