White House counsel rejects Democratic efforts to investigate Trump

Top Democrat Jerry Nadler Threatens Large Contempt Fines

The letter adds yet another layer to the escalating feud between the White House and House Democrats over their numerous investigations into the Trump administration and President Donald Trump's businesses and finances.

In a 12-page letter to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone said the Manhattan lawmaker was only replicating Robert Mueller's almost two-year probe - and that Congress was not entitled to a "do-over" of the investigation.

In response to Cipollone's letter, Nadler called the blocking of document requests "outrageous" and pledged that the House Judiciary committee will hear from both McGahn and Mueller at some point.

Cipollone also said that, due to the apparent duplicative nature of the House investigation and the lack of an underlying legislative objective for them, "the requests raise serious concerns of violating the separation of powers enshrined in the Constitution".

"Unfortunately, it appears that you have already made a decision to press ahead with a duplicative investigation, including by issuing subpoenas, to replow the same ground the Special Counsel has already covered", Cipollone wrote.

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.

But Cipollone said the inquiry "is designed not to further a legitimate legislative objective, 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".

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"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.

Cipollone argued that Congress can't investigate for the sake of it and said Nadler must show that the probes are in pursuit of legislation.

Jerry Nadler (D-NY) makes a statement with some of his colleagues after the House Judiciary Committee voted to hold U.S. Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress for not responding to a subpoena on Capitol Hill, May 8, 2019.

And the White House lawyer indicated that he wouldn't play ball. He did say that the White House would continue to work with the committee if it narrowed the scope of its request, and articulated "the legislative objective and legal basis supporting each of the remaining requests".

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.

Cipollone's arguments were similar to those made in court by the Trump's personal attorneys who are seeking to block a House subpoena of Trump's accounting firm.

The official denied that the rejection of Nadler's request was an attempt to goad Congress into beginning impeachment proceedings - something Democrats have suggested the President is trying to do with his blanket rejection of congressional oversight.

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