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Dem chairman batters Trump’s White House for blocking interviews with ex-staffers: ‘They’re basically stonewalling’

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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.

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“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.

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“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.”

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‘I’m an American’: Lt Col Vindman laughs off GOP counsel’s attempts to question his loyalty

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Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman laughed off questions about an offer by a Ukrainian official to serve as that country's defense minister.

The Soviet-born Vindman, who emigrated to the U.S. as a child and later served in the Iraq War, agreed that a Ukrainian official had offered him the government position three times during an official visit for the inauguration of the country's new president, Volodymyr Zelensky.

"I don't know (why the position was offered), but every single time I dismissed it," Vindman said. "Upon returning I notified my chain of command and the appropriate counter-intelligence folks about the offer."

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Newly leaked emails show Stephen Miller regularly pushed Breitbart to run anti-Rubio hit pieces

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Newly leaked emails obtained by NBC News show that Trump White House aide Stephen Miller regularly pressed right-wing website Brietbart News to run pieces attacking Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) during the 2016 election campaign.

The emails show that Miller regularly sent editorial directives to former Breitbart writer Katie McHugh even while he was working on the Trump campaign. According to McHugh, Miller had a special affinity for going after Rubio, who led a Republican effort to secure a deal for comprehensive immigration reform in the Senate.

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‘Smoking gun so hot it’s still on fire’: Ex-US Attorney astonished by text shown in Vindman testimony

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A former U.S. Attorney says Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman has delivered "smoking gun" evidence of a quid pro quo arrangement between President Donald Trump and Ukraine.

The National Security Council staffer told a House impeachment inquiry that he was aware of -- and alarmed by -- efforts as early as March to pressure Ukraine to announce an investigation of Joe Biden and his son, which he believed were conducted to deliver a political benefit the president.

The counsel for House Democrats then showed a text sent 30 minutes before Trump's July 25 call to Ukraine's president Volodymyr Zelensky, which shows the special envoy Kurt Volker dangling a White House visit to a Zelensky aide in exchange for an investigation.

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