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White House counsel criticizes House probe
18 May 2019, 04:38 | Glen Norman
No ‘do-over’ on Mueller probe, White House lawyer tells House panel, saying demands for records, staff testimony will be refused
White House officials said the release of a redacted version of Mueller's 448-page report last month made the congressional probes unnecessary and gratuitous.
Presidential counsel Pat Cipollone slammed the renewed inquiries in a letter to House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, and said the administration would not assist the committee in any new probe.
In his letter, Cipollone repeated a claim the White House and Trump's business have begun making: that Congress is not a law enforcement body and does not have a legitimate objective to investigate the questions it is pursuing.
A senior White House official also said that the administration expects Nadler to conclude that Mr. Trump obstructed justice, regardless of the special counsel's investigation.
"The appropriate course is for the Committee to discontinue the inquiry", he wrote.
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The official said the White House is relying on privileges that previous presidents have invoked.
"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", the lawyer said.
"It appears that the Committee's inquiry is designed, not to further a legitimate legislative goal, 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. But the Department of Justice wrote a memo in 2000 that states Congress can look into "serious wrongdoing" by a president "through its own investigatory powers".
"Unfortunately, it appears that you have already chose to press ahead with a duplicative investigation, including by issuing subpoenas, to replow the same ground the Special Counsel has already covered", said Cipollone.
When asked for a response to Nadler saying Trump was asking more like a king, the official said it sounded like it was the committee who was acting "imperiously".
Refusing House requests for information and testimony from White House staff?
In addition, the committee is seeking documents aimed at probing whether Trump has used the White House to enrich himself in violation of the Constitution's emoluments clause. And he vowed to hold in contempt whoever does not comply with said subpoenas. Trump's advisers have pushed him to defy congressional investigations in hopes of luring Democrats into moves they say will turn voters against the party in the 2020 elections - including the possibility of the president's impeachment.
Cipollone's 12-page letter is in response to a March 4 request from Nadler for a wide-range of documents related to the Russian Federation investigation.
Cipollone asked the committee to narrow its "sweeping" request and provide a legislative objective, and said many documents would be entitled to be withheld under executive privilege. "Moreover, the Committee - for the first time in American history - has voted to recommend that the Attorney General be held in contempt because he refused to violate the law by turning over grand-jury materials that he may not lawfully disclose".
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