Posts tagged with "White House Counsel Pat Cipollone"

White House opens internal review of Ukraine call, as insiders run for cover

October 17, 2019

The cat is investigating who ate the canary. President Donald Trump has for weeks sought to unmask the whistle-blower who revealed his Ukraine dealings. Now, administration attorneys have begun a “fact-finding review” on the actions leading up to the current impeachment inquiry— and some White House denizens fear that it is really a hunt for a scapegoat, according to sources tapped by The New York Times.

Specifically, the news outlet reports, the legal investigators are seeking to understand White House officials’ actions around Trump’s July 25 call with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, which is central to the whistle-blower’s allegation that the POTUS abused his power.

The lawyers are particularly interested in why one of their colleagues, National Security Council Legal Advisor John A. Eisenberg, placed a rough transcript of the call in a computer system typically reserved for the country’s most closely guarded secrets. The president later directed that a reconstructed transcript be released amid intensifying scrutiny from House Democrats.

According to the Times, “The review shows how quickly the impeachment inquiry escalated tensions in a West Wing already divided over the publication of the transcript, and it appears to be the latest example of administration officials rushing to protect themselves in the Ukraine scandal.”

For his own part, Eisenberg has reacted angrily to suggestions that he is under scrutiny, according to two people told of his response. He has said he limited access to the transcript over concerns about leaks, according to a person familiar with his actions. He declined through a National Security Council spokesman to comment.

It was not clear who sought the review. The Acting White House Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney, is said to have encouraged it, and his aides are helping the White House Counsel’s Office, led by Pat Cipollone, sources said. Aides in the two offices have otherwise been at odds since the transcript was released, according to administration officials.

The existence of the review could threaten the president’s narrative that his call with Zelensky was “perfect.” Instead, the review underscores the evidence that he bent foreign policy to his personal advantage by pressing Zelensky to open investigations that could damage his political opponents.

Research contact: @nytimes

Mum’s the word: Hope Hicks refuses to answer House Judiciary questions about Trump

June 20, 2019

Former Assistant to the President and Communications Director Hope Hicks has followed instructions from Donald Trump and his White House Counsel, Pat Cipollone, not to cooperate with questions from the House Judiciary Committee concerning obstruction of justice by the administration in the Mueller investigation.

In conformity with a subpoena, Hicks appeared on the Hill on June 19 for a closed-door meeting with the committee, chaired by Representative Jerry Nadler (D-New York).

However, Hicks—one of President Trump’s most trusted advisers until she resigned just one day after her previous testimony before the same House panel in February 2018—refused to answer questions Wednesday about her time working in the White House.

Representative David Cicilline (D-Rhode Island) a member of the committee and of Democratic leadership, told reporters Wednesday that Hicks was preventing Congress from doing its oversight work.

“She has answered some and mostly she is hiding behind the facetious claim of complete immunity about anything to do with her service in the White House,” he said, according to a report by NBC News.

“The president’s lawyers are directing her not to answer any questions even as we are recounting stuff she told to the special counsel,” he added. “This will be the beginning of what I presume will be litigation.”

In a letter sent to Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., on June 18, the night before Hicks’s scheduled testimony, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone asserted that Hicks was “absolutely immune from being compelled to testify before Congress with respect to matters occurring during her service as senior adviser to the president.”

But, NBC News reported, Nadler dismissed those claims. “I reject that assertion” regarding blanket executive privilege, he said in a response released late Tuesday night, adding that after the panel posed questions to Hicks, “we will address privilege and other objections on a question by question basis.”

According to the network news outlet, the Democrats on the panel had planned to focus their questions Wednesday on what they say are five crimes of obstruction of justice established by the Mueller Report against Trump, as well as campaign finance violations stemming from alleged election-year hush money payments.

Research contact: @NBCNews

Trump lashes out, refusing to reply or comply with Democratic probes

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