White House counsel criticizes House probe

White House counsel criticizes House probe

The Justice Department bars indictments of sitting presidents and Mueller's report made clear that the special counsel felt that the policy prevented him from saying definitively whether Trump's attacks on the investigation amounted to criminal obstruction.

White House Counsel Pat Cipollone rejected Democratic efforts to investigate President Trump, arguing in a letter to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler that Congress does not have the legal authority for a "do-over" of the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller.

The official, who asked not to be identified because the matter is sensitive, said the White House is prepared to negotiate with Nadler over what he called narrower, more reasonable requests. "The answer is of course not".

The request asked for information about contacts "between or involving the Russian Federation and its officials, agents, intermediaries, and/or instrumentalities" as well as information related to the Trump Organization's work on a construction project in Moscow.

"He is not looking to really get to the bottom of any matter. And before you do it, the American people have to support it".

Cipollone complained Nadler's committee has been eager to try to publicly tar the White House as uncooperative, pushing to hold officials in contempt, while ignoring the legal flaws in its demands. "That would be something that we could all agree on". The senior official contended the administration will comply with all "legitimate" requests that Nadler can show are "relevant" to "some legislative goal".

The White House's firm stand represents yet another escalation in the bitter standoff between the White House and House Democrats.

The third rationale is that the Judiciary Committee's inquiry is purely political and it has no "legitimate legislative purpose" to its inquiries into the Muller Report and is conducting "a pseudo law enforcement investigation" that is "outside the constitutional authority of the legislative branch". He added, for the first time, that the committee was seriously considering "very large" fines for witnesses who do not comply.

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"They continue to argue ridiculous things", Washington Rep.

"Today, the White House made the extraordinary demand that the Committee discontinue its inquiry into obstruction of justice, public corruption, and abuses of power, including as set forth in the Mueller Report".

"We will subpoena whoever we have to subpoena".

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.

Nadler said the White House's arguments were "ridiculous" and "un-American" and would hold the president above the law.

"He's not above the law, but he's also not below the law", the official said. "No president, no person in the United States is above the law". The senior official noted presidents of both parties have exerted those rights.

As Common Dreams reported last week, the House Judiciary Committee voted along party lines to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress after he refused to testify and failed to comply with a subpoena for the full Mueller report and all underlying evidence.

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