The White House doesn’t plan to voluntarily acquiesce to House Democrats’ sweeping demands for information anytime soon.
In a 12-page letter to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone stated that the executive branch would not be complying with House Democrats’ March document requests, while accusing Nadler and company of going outside of Congress’ legislative mandate to harass their political opponents.
In giving a list of multiple “legal flaws” contained in the committee’s recent document demands, Cipollone explained that “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.
“The only purpose for this duplication seems to be 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,” Cipollone’s explanation continues. “That, of course, is not a permissible purpose for demanding confidential information from the Executive.”
Wednesday’s letter was written in response to the wide-ranging document requests sent out by Nadler’s committee in early March. In a statement accompanying the 81 wide-ranging document requests, Nadler said that “Investigating [President Trump’s] threats to the rule of law is an obligation of Congress and a core function of the House Judiciary Committee.”
It is also unclear whether or not House Democrats’ investigative efforts have a clear legislative purpose, the White House’s top attorney wrote: “Congressional investigations are intended to obtain infmmation 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 also said that, due to the apparent duplicative nature of the House investigation and the lack of an underlying legislative purpose for them, “the requests raise serious concerns of violating the separation of powers enshrined in the Constitution.”
“We will work in good faith to accommodate Congress’s legitimate requests for information while at the same time respecting the separation of powers and the constitutional prerogatives of the President,” the letter explains. “Our approach is guided by long-standing precedent and a desire to seek accommodation and cooperation where possible, consistent with mutual respect for the constitutional roles of each branch of government.”