clearn.png
Sunday May 31st, 2020 3:46AM

House Democrats wrestle with White House over investigations

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

WASHINGTON (AP) — The struggle between House Democrats and the Trump administration over investigations intensified as a former White House official defied a subpoena and the Treasury Department ignored a deadline for providing President Donald Trump's tax returns.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said the White House has adopted the "untenable" position that it can ignore requests from the Democratic majority in the House.

"It appears that the president believes that the Constitution does not apply to his White House, that he may order officials at will to violate their legal obligations, and that he may obstruct attempts by Congress to conduct oversight," Cummings, D-Md., said in a statement.

Cummings was specifically referring to Carl Kline, a former White House personnel security director, who was subpoenaed by Democrats.

Kline did not show up Tuesday for a scheduled deposition, and Cummings said he is consulting with other lawmakers and staff about scheduling a vote to hold Kline in contempt of Congress. The committee subpoenaed Kline after one of his former subordinates told the panel that dozens of people in Trump's administration were granted security clearances despite "disqualifying issues" in their backgrounds.

Trump said he doesn't want former or current aides testifying in Congress, "where it's very partisan — obviously very partisan."

Trump told The Washington Post in an interview published Tuesday night, "I don't want people testifying to a party, because that is what they're doing if they do this."

Meanwhile, the administration on Tuesday defied a demand from Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., to turn over six years of Trump's tax returns by the close of business — a strong signal that they intend to reject the request. In a letter to Neal, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin asked for more time and said he would give the panel a final decision by May 6.

Mnuchin wrote Neal that he is consulting with the Justice Department "due to the serious constitutional questions raised by this request and the serious consequences that a resolution of those questions could have for taxpayer privacy."

Neal hasn't announced next steps, but he could opt to issue a subpoena to enforce his demand, sent under a 1924 law that requires the Treasury secretary to furnish any tax return requested by a handful of lawmakers with responsibility over the IRS.

The fight over Kline's appearance comes as the White House has stonewalled the oversight panel in several different investigations. On Monday, Trump and his business organization sued Cummings to block a subpoena that seeks years of the president's financial records. The complaint, filed in federal court in Washington, said a subpoena from Cummings "has no legitimate legislative purpose" and accused Democrats of harassing Trump.

Cummings said the White House "has refused to produce a single piece of paper or a single witness" in any of the panel's investigations this year. Democrats took control of the House in January.

Rudy Giuliani, one of Trump's personal attorneys, said he would force the issue into court by ignoring House Democrats' document requests.

"They can't investigate his taxes better than the IRS. They want his taxes to embarrass him," Giuliani said Wednesday on "Fox and Friends." ''That's why a court has a very good chance of ruling this is obstructive, this is harassment, this is not the proper use of legislative power, but fight every subpoena. They are entitled to nothing. This is like the judge saying 'I'm going to hang you, but let's have a little trial first.'"

The back and forth over Kline's testimony played out in a series of letters over the past month between the White House, the oversight committee and Kline's lawyer. The White House demanded that one of its lawyers attend the deposition to ensure executive privilege was protected, but Cummings rejected that request. The White House then ordered Kline, who now works at the Pentagon, to defy the subpoena.

Cummings said the committee has for years required that witnesses are represented only by their own counsel.

"There are obvious reasons we need to conduct our investigations of agency malfeasance without representatives of the office under investigation," Cummings said in a statement.

A spokesman for the top Republican on the oversight panel, Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, said Cummings was choosing confrontation over cooperation. 

"Chairman Cummings rushed to a subpoena in his insatiable quest to sully the White House," said Russell Dye. 

The oversight panel has been investigating security clearances issued to senior officials, including Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former White House aide Rob Porter.

Tricia Newbold, an 18-year government employee who oversaw the issuance of clearances for some senior White House aides, told the committee earlier this year that she compiled a list of at least 25 officials who were initially denied security clearances last year because of their backgrounds. But she said senior Trump aides overturned those decisions, moves she said weren't made "in the best interest of national security."

According to a committee memo, Newbold said the disqualifying issues included foreign influence, conflicts of interest, financial problems, drug use, personal conduct and criminal conduct.

Newbold said she raised her concerns up the chain of command in the White House to no avail. Instead, she said, the White House retaliated, suspending her in January for 14 days without pay for not following a new policy requiring that documents be scanned as separate PDF files rather than one single PDF file. Kline was Newbold's supervisor.

Newbold said when she returned to work in February, she was cut out of the security clearance process and removed from a supervisory responsibility.

___

Associated Press writers Andrew Taylor and Zeke Miller contributed to this report.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Business, AP Business - Corporate News, AP Business - Personal Finance
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Convicted ringleader in Texas dragging death to be executed
A man who orchestrated the June 1998 dragging death of James Byrd Jr. faces execution in Texas
12:26AM ( 26 minutes ago )
North Korea's Kim arrives in Russia before summit with Putin
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un arrived in Russia on Wednesday morning for his much-anticipated summit with President Vladimir Putin in the Pacific port city of Vladivostok
12:25AM ( 26 minutes ago )
White presidential candidates face 'woke litmus test'
Many white Democratic presidential candidates are speaking more candidly about systemic racism and white privilege
12:20AM ( 31 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Looming wave of sex abuse cases poses threat to Boy Scouts
Lawyers across the U.S. are recruiting clients for a potentially crippling new wave of sex abuse lawsuits against the Boy Scouts
10:52PM ( 2 hours ago )
California pushes talks on 1st-in-US police shooting rules
California lawmakers are trying to force law enforcement and reformers into talks on competing legislation to limit fatal shootings by police
9:37PM ( 3 hours ago )
The Latest: Court conservatives seem OK with census question
The Supreme Court's conservative majority appears ready to uphold the Trump administration's plan to ask about citizenship on the 2020 census
9:29PM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Tension emerges between Congress, 2020 Dems on impeachment
Some top Democrats vying for the White House in 2020 are clamoring for impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump, but many of their congressional colleagues are far more wary
5:25PM ( 7 hours ago )
AP Interview: Slovenia leader warns EU to counter populism
AP Interview: Slovenia leader says EU must counter populism, mounting influence of Russia and China
4:37PM ( 8 hours ago )
Justices seem ready to OK asking citizenship on census
The Supreme Court's conservative majority seems ready to uphold the Trump administration's plan to ask about citizenship on the 2020 census, despite evidence that millions of Hispanics and immigrants could go uncounted
4:36PM ( 8 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Kim looks to Russia as sanctions bite North Korea's economy
After failing to get sanctions eased during Trump meeting, Kim Jong Un is traveling to Russia in a possible attempt to win Putin's help as US-led sanctions hurt North Korea's economy
10:42PM ( 2 hours ago )
APNewsBreak: 2019 MLB payrolls drop due to signing bonuses
APNewsBreak: Large MLB signing bonuses mask otherwise flat market for 2nd straight offseason
8:56PM ( 3 hours ago )
S&P 500, Nasdaq close at record highs as earnings roll in
The S&P 500 closed at an all-time high Tuesday, marking the stock market's complete recovery from a nosedive at the end of last year
7:54PM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Business
US new-home sales climbed 4.5% in March
Sales of new US homes rose 4.5% in March; strongest pace since November 2017 as market recovers from last year's slump
11:34AM ( 13 hours ago )
Millennial Money: Are you robbing the Bank of Mom and Dad?
Are you hurting your parents' retirement by tapping the Bank of Mom and Dad?
11:23AM ( 13 hours ago )
The Latest: Klobuchar still reluctant to 'Medicare for All'
Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar is maintaining her reluctance to liberal Democrats' call for "Medicare for All."
7:36PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Business - Personal Finance
Convicted ringleader in Texas dragging death to be executed
A man who orchestrated the June 1998 dragging death of James Byrd Jr. faces execution in Texas
12:26AM ( 26 minutes ago )
North Korea's Kim arrives in Russia before summit with Putin
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un arrived in Russia on Wednesday morning for his much-anticipated summit with President Vladimir Putin in the Pacific port city of Vladivostok
12:25AM ( 26 minutes ago )
White presidential candidates face 'woke litmus test'
Many white Democratic presidential candidates are speaking more candidly about systemic racism and white privilege
12:20AM ( 31 minutes ago )
Julián Castro is finally running but fighting to get noticed
Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro returns to Texas this week lagging in polls and money raised in a crowded 2020 field
12:19AM ( 33 minutes ago )
Leaders of Hong Kong pro-democracy protests sentenced
A court in Hong Kong handed down prison sentences of up to 16 months to eight leaders of massive 2014 pro-democracy protests after they were convicted last month of public nuisance offenses
12:04AM ( 47 minutes ago )