The White House officially rejected demands from House Democrats to turn over records and make administration officials available for testimony on Wednesday, marking the latest escalation in the ongoing battle for information between President Donald Trump and Congress.
In a lengthy letter from White House counsel Pat Cipollone addressed to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), the president’s lawyer laid out his case for rebuffing the request and claimed the committee’s demands amounted to efforts to harass the president and relitigate the special counsel’s investigation into Russian interference.
“Congressional investigations are intended 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 wrote, arguing that Democrats on the committee had failed to provide “any proper legislative purpose” for their various inquiries, which include requests for testimony from former White House counsel Don McGahn and former White House personnel security director Carl Kline.
Cipollone’s claim that Democrats lack a legislative purpose to back their demands has been central to several of Trump’s legal team’s refusals to comply with Democratic inquiries. The line was repeated as recently as Tuesday when a group of lawyers representing the president resisted the House Intelligence Committee’s requests for documents related to its investigation into whether the president’s lawyers attempted to obstruct the panel’s Russian interference probe. It was also used by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin earlier this month when he refused to turn over Trump’s tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee.
Responding to Cipollone’s letter on Wednesday, Nadler blasted the White House for “claiming the president is a king.”
“No president, no person in the United States is above the law,” he continued. “This is preposterous.”
Read Cipollone’s letter below: