Published: Sat, May 18, 2019
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

White House rejects cooperating in Congress 'show trial'

White House rejects cooperating in Congress 'show trial'

White House Counsel Pat Cipollone's letter to committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) constitutes a sweeping rejection - not just of Nadler's request for White House records, but of Congress's standing to investigate Trump for possible obstruction of justice.

"The White House will not participate in the committee's "investigation" that brushes aside the conclusions of the Department of Justice after a two-year-long effort in favor of political theater pre-ordained to reach a preconceived and false result", said the 12-page letter from Cipollone.

He cited Mueller's 448-page report, which did not refer obstruction charges and found the Trump campaign did not conclude with Russian Federation to win the 2016 presidential election.

The senior White House official said the administration remained open to working with Nadler on oversight requests as long as they serve a legitimate legislative goal, but argued Nadler was "brushing aside the conclusions of the Justice Department in favor of political theater".

Cipollone said the appropriate course of action for the committee is to discontinue the inquiry.

"Congressional investigations are meant to obtain information to aid in evaluating potential legislation, not to harass political opponents or to pursue an unauthorized "do-over" of exhaustive law enforcement investigations conducted by the Department of Justice", Cipollone concluded.

Cipollone also said that, due to the apparent duplicative nature of the House investigation and the lack of an underlying legislative goal for them, "the requests raise serious concerns of violating the separation of powers enshrined in the Constitution".

The document request also focused on events during the Trump administration including any conversations about presidential pardons, and meetings or conversations the president had with the Russian government and other foreign leaders. The letters were the opening salvo in the panel's investigation into obstruction of justice and abuses of power, which covers numerous same topics as the Mueller investigation.

McGahn, at the behest of the White House, refused to turn over subpoenaed documents last week, prompting the chairman to threaten contempt proceedings-if he fails to appear for scheduled testimony next week.

Wednesday's letter was written in response to the wide-ranging document requests sent out by Nadler's committee in early March.

In the letter, Cipollone did not exert executive privilege over the materials requested by Nadler, but he argued that the White House would be within its right to do so.

Cipollone's letter was the latest instance of the Trump administration's efforts to impede some 20 congressional investigations into his turbulent presidency, his family and his personal business interests.

"We will subpoena whoever we have to subpoena", the New York Democrat said, adding that individuals who do not comply will be held in contempt of Congress.

The White House refusal to respond to the judiciary committee's demand for evidence sets up a constitutional clash that could end up in the courts. The administration "cannot be allowed to simply say to the Congress 'we're not going to answer your questions, we're not going to give you documentation, '" he added.

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