The Trump administration has rebuffed efforts by House Democrats to interview former White House officials directly on at least two occasions, CNN reported Friday.
According to the report, the White House chided House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-MD), saying the panel should have contacted the White House instead of those ex-staffers directly.
“At the center of one of the disputes is former chief of staff John Kelly, whose cooperation is central to Cummings’ investigation into the White House’s handling of security clearances, including Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner,” CNN reported. “Cummings’ staff reached out to Kelly directly by phone on multiple occasions, which prompted a stinging response from White House counsel Pat Cipollone.”
In a letter Cipollone sent to Cummings in late February, the White House counsel criticized the committee chairman for not consulting with him first — a move Cummings said was akin to “stonewalling.”
“Once again, these actions disregard my earlier request to the Committee regarding contacts with former or current White House officials,” Cipollone wrote. “Consulting with my office will ensure that the Committee efficiently obtains access to the information and individuals to which it is entitled and that any disclosure of privileged information to Congress is properly authorized.”
“The President’s lawyers, they know that’s not accurate. It’s not accurate,” Cummings said. “So they’re basically stonewalling. That’s what it is.”
The House Oversight chairman told CNN the committee still has not spoken to Kelly.
“They block us from everything,” he said.
The report added that House Oversight aides said earlier in March that the White House “refused three times to confirm or deny that a memo from Kelly on White House security clearances even existed.”