The White House has rejected House Democrats’ request for information on President Donald Trump’s communications with Russian President Vladimir Putin, citing executive authority.
“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,” White House counsel Pat Cipollone (pictured above, left) wrote to the chairmen of the House Committees on Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight. CNN obtained the letter.
“And foreign leaders must be assured of this as well,” Cipollone added.
The chairmen, Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Eliot Engel (D-NY) and Elijah Cummings (D-MD), wrote to the White House earlier this month requesting the communications, following up on a similar request from February that went without response.
Referring to reports that Trump had seized a translator’s notes following a meeting with Putin, the chairmen also asked that the translators be made available for interviews.
Per CNN, Cipollone added:
“Presidents from all political parties have determined that the law does not require the Executive Branch to provide Congress with documents relating to confidential diplomatic communications between the President and foreign leaders … No foreign leader would engage in private conversations with the President, or the President’s senior advisors, if such conversations were subject to public disclosure (or disclosure to committees of Congress).
“It appears that the practice of the Committees has been to request information that the Committees have no legal entitlement to receive and then to unfairly criticize the White House for simply adhering to consistent bipartisan past practice in its response.”