Cummings Blasts White House, HHS For Stonewalling Probe Into Air Travel

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House Oversight Committee Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-MD) on Wednesday afternoon called out the White House and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for their failure to fully respond to the committee’s document requests regarding air travel by Trump administration officials.

Cummings said in a letter to the committee’s chairman, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) that the White House has failed to respond to the committee’s request by the Oct. 31 deadline and said that HHS did not completely fulfill the committee’s document request.

“By now, the White House and HHS should have produced complete manifests with lists of all passengers who joined these flights, as well as the full costs of each flight,” Cummings wrote. “Unfortunately, the White House has provided no response whatsoever to the Committee’s bipartisan follow-up request on October 17, 2017. We have received no manifests, destinations, dates of use, purposes, or costs of trips. We have received no information on why the White House has failed to respond to this Committee’s second request for these documents.”

Without documents from the White House, the Oversight Committee cannot determine how often White House counselor Kellyanne Conway joined former HHS Secretary Tom Price on non-commercial flights, Cummings said. Conway joined Price for several flights on private planes, according to Politico.

While HHS did submit documents to the Oversight Committee, the documents were “so highly redacted that it is impossible to tell which other government officials or non-government officials joined Secretary Price on his charter flights,” Cummings wrote.

“For example, if Ms. Conway in fact joined any of these trips, it appears that her name has been intentionally concealed from these documents to eliminate any public reference to her participation,” Cummings said in the statement.

In the letter to Gowdy on Wednesday, Cummings called on Gowdy to issue subpoenas to the White House and HHS for the documents requested by the committee.

After several Cabinet officials came under scrutiny for using non-commercial planes, the Oversight Committee asked the White House and all departments to turn over their air travel records to the committee. Gowdy threatened to subpoena the Justice Department and Agriculture Department for not complying with the request, extending the deadline until the end of October. It’s not clear if those two agencies have yet to comply with the request. Gowdy also warned several agencies, including HHS, that they had not fully complied with the request.

Price pledged to repay the government for his seats on the non-commercial flights, but Cummings said in his Wednesday letter that neither HHS nor the Treasury Department have provided the committee with a copy of the check.

Check out an example of the documents redacted by HHS published by Cummings:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Caitlin MacNeal is a News Writer based in Washington, D.C. Before joining TPM, Caitlin interned and wrote for the Huffington Post, the Sunlight Foundation and Slate. She is a graduate of Georgetown University.
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