WH Refuses Dems' Request For Info On Trump's Talks With Putin

Minnie Murray
March 22, 2019

And he asked the White House for a briefing on its protocols for preserving records in accordance with the law.

That proposal is under investigation by Cummings' committee, which is looking into information from whistleblowers who have said they witnessed "abnormal acts" within the Trump National Security Council involving senior White House officials who were pushing the plan.

Cummings' reference to Kushner's WhatsApp messages comes in the wake of revelations last month that President Donald Trump intervened on behalf of his son-in-law and senior White House adviser to demand top-secret security clearance for Kushner against the recommendations of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

"This is why, from the Nation's beginning, Presidents from all political parties have determined that the law does not require the Executive Branch to provide Congress with documents related to confidential diplomatic communications between the president and foreign leaders", he said in the letter.

The White House, Lowell and representatives for Trump and Kushner did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Counsel to the President Pat Cipollone on Thursday rejected a demand made by House Democrats to hand over documentation of President Donald Trump's conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Cummings added that Lowell also said his other client, Ivanka, sends personals email messages relating to her duties to her official White House email account only when she responds to them. In the letter addressed to Cummings, Lowell disputed some of Cummings' assertions, saying the congressman's letter is "not completely accurate about what was said".

Lowell said Kushner archives the messages he sends by taking screenshots of them and forwarding that record to his official White House email account or the National Security Council.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., said in a letter to the White House that the use of private email accounts and the messaging application WhatsApp by senior administration officials raises "security and federal records concerns". He complained that the White House has failed to produce documents demanded by the committee throughout much of 2017 and 2018. Cummings asked Cipollone to confirm by March 28 whether the White House intends to comply voluntarily with its investigation and subsequent document requests.

The White House refusal marks the latest move in the ongoing fight between the Trump administration and House Democrats looking to flex their oversight muscles since retaking control of the lower chamber of Congress in January.

Senior adviser to the President Jared Kushner used private email and a messaging app to conduct official business, the House oversight committee says. Her lawyer confirmed this as well, according to the committee.

Cummings is asking the White House whether these communications were properly preserved.

Mr Cummings said the committee obtained a document that "appears" to show that Ms McFarland conducted official business on her personal e-mail account.

The chairmen specifically were seeking access to all State Department employees and contractors with knowledge of Trump's communications with the Russian leader, including "linguists, translators, or interpreters who participated in [sic] attended, or in any way listened in on President Trump's in-person meetings with President Putin, as well as President Trump's phone calls with President Putin".

"We will be consulting on appropriate next steps", they added.

Citing Supreme Court precedent, Cipollone wrote that "the conduct of foreign affairs is a matter that the Constitution assigns exclusively to the President".

"Congress can not require the president to disclose confidential communications with foreign leaders".

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