Advertisement

Congress has no right to conduct ‘do-over’ of Mueller investigation: White House counsel

Click to play video: 'White House tells Congress they can’t conduct ‘do-over’ of Mueller report' White House tells Congress they can’t conduct ‘do-over’ of Mueller report
WATCH ABOVE: White House tells Congress they can't conduct 'do-over' of Mueller report – May 15, 2019

Congress has no right to conduct a “do-over” of Special Counsel Robert Mueller‘s Russia probe, the White House said in a letter blasting House Democrats’ “sweeping” requests for documents as an effort to harass political opponents.

The May 15 letter from White House counsel Pat Cipollone to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler says the committee’s main probe of President Donald Trump’s presidency serves no legitimate legislative purpose.

READ MORE: Donald Trump Jr. agrees to closed-door interview with Senate Intel Committee: sources

It was drafted in response to a March 4 request for documents from Nadler, who is running a congressional investigation into allegations of obstruction of justice, public corruption and other abuses of power.

“The White House will not participate in the committee’s ‘investigation’ that brushes aside the conclusions of the Department of Justice after a two-year-long effort in favor of political theater pre-ordained to reach a preconceived and false result,” said the 12-page letter from Cipollone.

Story continues below advertisement

WATCH: Trump denies asking AG Barr to investigate origins of Russia investigation

Click to play video: 'Trump denies asking AG Barr to investigate origins of Russia investigation' Trump denies asking AG Barr to investigate origins of Russia investigation
Trump denies asking AG Barr to investigate origins of Russia investigation – May 14, 2019

Cipollone’s letter was the latest instance of the Trump administration’s efforts to impede some 20 congressional investigations into his turbulent presidency, his family and his personal business interests.

In an intensifying constitutional clash with political risks for both sides headed into the November 2020 elections, Nadler blasted back, rejecting the White House position as “preposterous.”

Nadler, who heads the committee that would handle any impeachment proceedings against Trump, told CNN: “This is the White House claiming that the president is king … No president, no person in the United States is above the law.”

In his letter, Cipollone asked House Judiciary to narrow its “sweeping” request and provide a legislative purpose for it, adding that many documents would be entitled to be withheld under the legal doctrine of executive privilege.

Story continues below advertisement

DEMOCRATS’ DEMANDS

The documents requested relate to everything from the contents of Trump’s meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin to his communications with former White House counsel Donald McGahn, the firings of former White House national security advisor Michael Flynn and former FBI Director James Comey, and possible pardons for Trump associates who pleaded guilty to crimes stemming from the probe.

Democrats also want a full, unredacted Mueller report, six years of Trump’s individual and business tax returns, and explanations for some of the administration’s key policy decisions on healthcare and separating migrant families.

READ MORE: House Democrats to prepare subpoenas to access full Mueller report

They have issued subpoenas and Nadler’s committee has voted to recommend a contempt of Congress charge against Attorney General William Barr for refusing to give lawmakers the unredacted Mueller report and underlying evidence.

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.

A House Intelligence Committee deadline for its subpoena seeking the unredacted Mueller report and related material arrived on Wednesday and was expected to pass unmet, a congressional source said. The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Story continues below advertisement

WATCH: Trump says Barr will make decision on whether Mueller can testify

Click to play video: 'Trump says Barr will make decision on whether Mueller can testify' Trump says Barr will make decision on whether Mueller can testify
Trump says Barr will make decision on whether Mueller can testify – May 9, 2019

Trump has sued to block a congressional subpoena for financial records from his accounting firm, while the White House has directed McGahn not to cooperate with a Judiciary Committee subpoena for records.

Democrats are now considering contempt resolutions against other top administration officials and plan to vote on them, possibly all at once, and perhaps in June.

READ MORE: Robert Mueller’s letter of complaint was ‘a bit snitty’, U.S. AG William Barr says

“We don’t want to do it just individually,” said No. 2 House Democrat Steny Hoyer. The administration “cannot be allowed to simply say to the Congress ‘we’re not going to answer your questions, we’re not going to give you documentation,'” he added.

Story continues below advertisement

Twenty House Democrats, including Nadler, are expected to participate in a public reading of the 448-page redacted Mueller report, beginning at noon (1700 GMT) on Thursday until sometime early on Friday, according to the Washington Post.

WATCH: McConnell says ‘case closed’ on Mueller investigation

Click to play video: 'McConnell says ‘case closed’ on Mueller investigation' McConnell says ‘case closed’ on Mueller investigation
McConnell says ‘case closed’ on Mueller investigation – May 7, 2019

The Mueller report described numerous links between Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and various Russians. But it found insufficient evidence to establish that the campaign engaged in a criminal conspiracy with Moscow. It also described numerous attempts by Trump to impede Mueller’s probe, but stopped short of declaring that the president committed a crime.

Sponsored content