White House escalates resistance to congressional investigations

Trump waves outside the White House in Washington

Trump waves outside the White House in Washington

White House counsel Pat Cipollone sent Nadler a letter responding to his March announcement of a sweeping investigation requesting documents from 81 individuals or entities connected to President Donald Trump.

In his letter, Cipollone repeated a claim the White House and Trump's business have begun making: that Congress is not a law enforcement body and does not have a legitimate goal to investigate the questions it is pursuing.

The White House has a message for House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler: Pass a bill - any bill - rather than trying to "replicate" Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller's Russian Federation election meddling probe.

He also questioned whether the House investigation is a "legitimate exercise of oversight authority" and says the White House will "resist the overbroad demands".

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. Instead, he told Nadler he would consider a narrowed request if the chairman spells out the legislative goal and legal support for the information he is seeking.

"Under the circumstances, the appropriate course is for the Committee to discontinue the inquiry discussed in the March 4 letter", he wrote.

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But Cipollone said the inquiry "is designed not to further a legitimate legislative goal, 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".

Nadler rejected the letter from the White House arguing that the panel's requests for information related to potential abuse of power by the president and his associates serve no legitimate legislative goal. Some Democrats are also talking about invoking Congress' so-called inherent contempt powers to fine or jail those who defy congressional subpoenas. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., requested, they do argue that because the request is so broad it violates all prongs of executive privilege.

The White House doesn't plan to voluntarily acquiesce to House Democrats' sweeping demands for information anytime soon.

Mueller left open whether the president had attempted to obstruct justice, but Trump's attorney general, William Barr, ruled later that there was no obstruction. "How about you work on things that fall within the jurisdiction of the Judiciary Committee?"

Cipollone argued that Congress can't investigate for the sake of it and said Nadler must show that the probes are in pursuit of legislation. The White House has moved to block the Democrats at every turn, laying the groundwork for what could be months of legal and political battles over the president's tax returns, his business's financial records and the testimony of his current and former aides. Though Trump and his allies routinely attacked Mueller's integrity, the White House has found fit to praise the special counsel when it suits them: Officials on Wednesday declared Mueller's team to be "professional" and "hard-charging" and insisted that Mueller's conclusions be honored.

Nadler on Wednesday said he didn't know the White House's motives, but he would not allow the White House to try to claim that the President can not be held accountable.

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