White House legal counsel Pat Cipollone issued a letter to members of the House Judiciary Committee Tuesday, May 14, rejecting the committee’s requests for a broad range of information and private communications from within the Trump White House.
The committee, chaired by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), has been seeking to conduct its own investigation into the question of whether President Trump or members of his administration obstructed justice and abused their power during the process of the Mueller investigation.
The committee first requested access to White House documents and correspondence in March, just as the Mueller Investigation was concluding.
In his 12-page letter, Cipollone responded, “It appears that the committee’s inquiry is designed, not to further a legitimate legislative purpose, but rather to conduct a pseudo law enforcement investigation on matters that were already the subject of the Special Counsel’s long-running investigation and are outside the constitutional authority of the legislative branch.”
Cipollone further accused Democrats on the committee of “harassing and seeking to embarrass political opponents after an exhaustive two-year investigation by the Department of Justice did not reach the conclusion that some members of the committee apparently would have preferred.”
Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler expressed frustration to reporters soon after learning about counsel Cipollone’s letter. He stated, “They say the Justice Department can’t hold [President Trump] accountable since the sitting president cannot be indicted, and now they’re saying that Congress cannot hold a president accountable. … This would make the president above the law.”
White House may be willing to comply if the committee narrows its scope
Cipollone indicated that the White House would be willing to comply with requests from the House committee if the committee were to “narrow the sweeping scope of the requests” and “articulate the legislative purpose and legal support” for each request. Since early March, the House committee had initially requested documents from 81 individuals and organizations, including members of President Trump’s family and original campaign staff.
The House committee intends to pursue its investigation on a range of subjects, including Trump’s communications with former White House counsel Don McGahn, the firing of James Comey as FBI director, and discussions over whether Trump intended to fire Robert Mueller III.
The committee has subpoenaed McGahn to testify publicly next week as part of its investigation.