Now that the control of the House’s investigative bodies is back in Democrat hands, the efforts to get to the bottom of President Trump’s relationship with Russia have redoubled — and his reaction to their inquiries tells us just as much as the documents sought by Congress.
Earlier this month, three major House Committees — Oversight, Intelligence, and Foreign Affairs — issued a sweeping demand for documents and interviews related to President Trump’s infamous communications with Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, who is accused of waging an elaborate hacking and disinformation campaign to tilt the 2016 election on behalf of Donald Trump.
Today, the Hill obtained a reply from the President’s counsel Pat Cipollone which communicates the White House’s refusal to provide any of the desired documentation on the grounds that they are confidential and protected by executive privilege.
The letter argues that “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.”
While that might have been true if it was actually a partisan political matter, the fact of the matter, as established by the conclusions of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, is that the President’s relationship with Vladimir Putin represents a direct threat to national security severe enough to prompt a Justice Department counterintelligence investigation, which one would expect might trump the usual concerns for executive privilege and confidentiality.
The Hill reports that the House wanted any records of “in-person meetings between Trump and Putin or preparations for those meetings; telephone calls between Trump and Putin; records of any written communications between or about communications between Trump and Putin; guidance provided to the White House or agency personnel concerning federal records laws; and compliance or non-compliance with federal records laws.”
A cursory examination of the circumstances surrounding Trump’s meetings with Putin should be enough to raise the alarm in anyone’s mind. Reports from staffers accuse Trump of going to absurd lengths to hide the details of his meetings with Putin from his own team, at one point even grabbing the notes away from the interpreter.
He’s met with the Russian dictator on several occasions without anyone else present; in fact, the White House claims they have no notes whatsoever about any of Trump’s meetings with Putin over the past few years.
The highly suspicious circumstances aside, if the Trump team truly has nothing to hide, then why the furious denials?
The refusal to release the documents and interviews may force the Democrats to issue subpoenas to force the issue, likely prompting a bruising and embarrassing court battle for the White House as they try to argue, against all evidence, that executive privilege overrules Congress’ Constitutional duty to provide oversight of the executive branch.
But if the dedication and the determination of this new House has shown us anything, it’s that our Congressmembers are tired of being obstructed and dismissed by the White House and their Republican lackeys and that this certainly won’t be enough to keep them from prying the truth from Trump’s stubby fingers.