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Trump refuses House requests for information

Trump refuses House requests for information

Calling the Democratic-led House Judiciary Committee's probe of alleged obstruction of justice and abuses of power by the president an "unauthorized do-over" of the Mueller investigation, the White House on Wednesday rejected panel chairman Jerrold Nadler's requests for documents.

The White House did not assert executive privilege for the initial Mueller report, but the letter states that the Committee's requests violate the four components of executive privilege: confidential communication between Trump and his advisors; discussions between executive branch officials; information that comes from law enforcement investigations and the president's communications with foreign leaders.

The refusal by the White House was the latest episode in a series of tussles between House Democrats and the Trump administration, which has argued that a series of investigations into the president's behaviors and personal finances are politically motivated and legally unjustified. The judiciary panel voted to hold the attorney general, William Barr, in contempt of Congress after he defied the committee's subpoena for an unredacted version of the report.

Cipollone said the White House would evaluate a more narrow request from the committee staff, but said many documents might be withheld under executive privilege.

"Unfortunately, it appears that you have already made a decision to press ahead with a duplicative investigation, including by issuing subpoenas, to replow the same ground the Special Counsel has already covered", Cipollone wrote.

"It appears that the Committee's inquiry is designed, not to further a legitimate legislative objective, 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 wrote.

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 Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Isn't this essentially obstruction of justice?

"The Justice Department says they can't hold the president accountable because you can't indict a president and now they are saying 'neither can Congress.' So the president is totally uncountable and above the law".

And the White House lawyer indicated that he wouldn't play ball.

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. And he vowed to hold in contempt whoever does not comply with said subpoenas.

Nadler said Trump has gone further than any other president in fighting congressional subpoenas. "We will hear from Mueller, we will hear from [former White House counsel Don McGahn]", Nadler said after Cipollone's letter.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Wednesday that he expects a House tax committee subpoena for Trump's tax returns to end in a court fight, suggesting he will not provide the documents by a Friday deadline.

He added, "The White House also claims it is willing to cooperate with this Committee while at the same time refusing to work with Congress".