WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- The White House has refused to provide Congress committees documents linked to the private conservations between President Trump and Russian President Putin because such conversations are considered by law as private and confidential.
- The three Democrats who sent the letter of request were-Adam Schiff, Elliot Engel and Elijah Cummings, all House chairmen of Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight respectively, are currently thinking of issuing a subpoena to the translators of Trump and Putin’s meetings.
- According to Pat Cipollone, counsel for the White House, the executive branch is not required by law to disclose details of communications between the president and foreign leaders to Congress.
A request from congressional Democrats to secure documents connected to the Trump-Putin communications was rejected by the White House for the reason that presidential communications with foreign leaders have long been established by courts as “protected and confidential. “
The letter on Thursday is the latest example of rejected requests for documents from House Democrats investigating a host of issues involving the Trump administration, by the White House.
In a letter to three Democratic committee chairmen obtained by CNN, White House counsel Pat Cipollone wrote: “The President must be free to engage in discussions with foreign leaders without fear that those communications will be disclosed and used as fodder for partisan political purposes. And foreign leaders must be assured of this as well.”
In connection to investigations whether Trump’s associates tried to conceal the nature of Trump’s contacts with Putin, the three Democrats namely, House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, House Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel and House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings, are contemplating whether to subpoena the translators of Trump and Putin’s meetings.
This comes after reports that Trump kept his aides in the dark and even took his interpreter’s notes after meetings with Putin took place.
“The White House is engaged in an unprecedented level of stonewalling, delay and obstruction,” wrote Cummings who also said that his committee had not received any documents regarding any topic his team is examining as well as a missed deadline on Monday by the White House to respond to a document request set by the House Judiciary Committee.
As tensions between the White House and House Democrats arise, Cipollone argued that the law does not require the executive branch to provide documents relating to confidential diplomatic communications between the president and foreign leaders, to Congress. He added that if such conversations were disclosed to committees of Congress, no foreign leader would want to engage in private talks with the president.
Furthermore, he admonished the committee chairmen for not accommodating the interests of the executive branch by unfairly criticizing the White House for consistently following bipartisan practices that date back to the past.