White House to Congress: No 'Do-Over' of Mueller Probe

No ‘do-over’ on Mueller probe, White House lawyer tells House panel, saying demands for records, staff testimony will be refused

The White House doesn't plan to voluntarily acquiesce to House Democrats' sweeping demands for information anytime soon.

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.

Pat Cippillone sent the letter Tuesday.

Trump apparently answers to no one.

He also questions whether the House probe is a "legitimate exercise of oversight authority" and says the White House will "resist the overbroad demands".

The White House counsel stopped short of invoking blanket executive privilege, but he said the White House would only cooperate with narrow requests from Nadler if Congress explained the legislative purposes behind them.

"Congressional investigations are meant to obtain information to aid in evaluating potential legislation, not to harass political opponents or to pursue an unauthorized "do-over" of exhaustive law enforcement investigations conducted by the Department of Justice", Cipollone's letter reads.

The move by the White House to stonewall Democrats' demands, coupled with Democrats' threats to impose fines and possibly jail officials held in contempt of Congress, further escalated the ongoing feud between the two parties.

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.

Democrats are now considering contempt resolutions against other top administration officials and plan to vote on them, possibly all at once, and perhaps in June.

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.

Nadler termed the letter sent to him from the White House on Wednesday to be "preposterous" and "this is the White House claiming that the president is a king", an assertion with which officials in the West Wing immediately disagreed.

As the legal tit-for-tat continues, both parties already are making the Mueller report, which clears Trump of a criminal conspiracy with Russian Federation but did not exonerate him on obstruction of justice, a part of their 2020 campaign messages. "We will hear from Mueller, we will hear from [former White House counsel Don McGahn]", Nadler said after Cipollone's letter. The committee issued a subpoena for former White House counsel Don McGahn, and the White House instructed McGahn not to provide documents in response. The senior official contended the administration will comply with all "legitimate" requests that Nadler can show are "relevant" to "some legislative objective". Trump said this month that Mueller should not testify before Congress, but he reversed course last week, saying he would leave that decision up to Attorney General Bill Barr.

"Now it adds the extreme claim that Congress can not act either, because that would duplicate the special counsel's work", said Nadler.

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