March 6, 2019
President Donald Trump lashed out on March 5, indicating that the White House would not comply with a deluge of document requests sent out this week by the House Judiciary Committee—and last week, by the House Oversight Committee, The Hill reported.
The president accused Democrats in the House of launching the probes to hurt his chances of winning reelection in 2020.
“It’s a disgrace to our country. I’m not surprised that it’s happening. Basically, they’ve started the campaign. So the campaign begins,” Trump told the media at a White House event, adding, “Instead of doing infrastructure, instead of doing healthcare, instead of doing so many things that they should be doing, they want to play games.”
Trump suggested that his predecessor, President Barack Obama, would have done the same. However, Obama did turn over more than 1,000 documents in April 2016 related to a controversial federal gun trafficking investigation.
“They didn’t give one letter. They didn’t do anything,” Trump said, adding, “ They didn’t give one letter of the requests.”
The president’s remarks suggest the White House could invoke executive privilege or take other measures to shield internal documents or discussions from Democratic-led panels investigating Trump’s administration, campaign, and businesses, The Hill reported.
In a letter released earlier on March 5, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone rejected House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings’s (D-Maryland) March 1 request for documents related to security clearances for White House personnel.
Cipollone called Cummings’s demands “unprecedented and extraordinarily intrusive demands” and said the chairman “failed to point to any authority establishing a legitimate legislative purpose” for the request.
In return, Cummings issued the following statement: “The White House appears to be arguing that Congress has no authority to examine decisions by the Executive Branch that impact our national security—even when the President’s former National Security Adviser has pleaded guilty to lying about his contacts with foreign government officials. There is a key difference between a president who exercises his authority under the Constitution and a president who overrules career experts and his top advisers to benefit his family members and then conceals his actions from the American people. The White House’s argument defies the Constitutional separation of powers, decades of precedent before this Committee, and just plain common-sense.”
While the White House has yet to formally respond to Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler’s (D-New York) sweeping demands, the letter and Trump’s remark signal the White House could take a similarly adversarial approach.
Trump on March 4 used a more conciliatory tone in his first response to Nadler’s investigation, telling reporters that “I cooperate all the time with everybody.”
But by March 5, The Hill reported, his tone had changed. In a tweet, he accused Nadler and other Democratic chairmen of having “gone stone cold CRAZY” and attempting to “harass” dozens of “innocent people” who have worked in the White House and the Trump Organization with their document requests.
Research contact: @Jordanfabian