WH Responds To House GOPers’ Oversight Requests: Try Again When You Actually Have Power

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 14: Ranking member Rep. Jim Jordan R-Ohio during a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill on July 14, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
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A top Biden lawyer said the White House will not respond to records requests made by Republican congressmen before they take control of the House in 2023, according to multiple letters obtained by Politico

In letters to Reps. James Comer (R-KY) and Jim Jordan (R-OH), White House Special Counsel Richard Sauber said the Biden administration will operate in good faith but has no immediate plans to respond to the raft of records requests submitted by the two congressmen in the past couple of weeks.

Sauber argued that the Republican congressman’s requests are constitutionally illegitimate as Comer and Jordan, who are expected to lead the House Oversight Committee and the House Judiciary Committee respectively in the new year, made their requests before they had the authority to do so.

“Congress has not delegated such [oversight] authority to individual members of Congress who are not committee chairmen, and the House has not done so under its current Rules,” Sauber wrote in a letter.

He added that Republicans will have to restart their oversight demands once they have taken control of the House and their respective committees in the new year.

Republicans have been forthright for months about their plans to start multiple investigations into various MAGAland grievances — including investigations into Hunter Biden, the Afghanistan pullout, the Biden administration’s immigration policies, Dr. Anthony Fauci and the work of the Jan. 6 Committee — if they flipped the House in the midterms.

They renewed their commitment to some of these investigations shortly before the midterms, in a “1,000 page report on FBI and DOJ politicization.” The report, which contained mostly old letters, read similar to a Fox News anchor script, filled with conspiracy theories and far-right talking points. 

House Republicans even identified 42 Biden administration officials they plan to call for testimony in the new year, in a Nov. 18 letter to the White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain and other top administration officials.

In the letters, Sauber did not rule out satisfying GOP requests in the upcoming year, but the pushback is one of the first signs of what will likely be a months-long tug-of-war between House Republicans and the Biden White House.

“Should the Committee issue similar or other requests in the 118th Congress, we will review and respond to them in good faith, consistent with the needs and obligations of both branches,” Sauber wrote. “We expect the new Congress will undertake its oversight responsibilities in the same spirit of good faith.”

But despite Sauber’s attempts to create some middle ground, Comer pushed back on Sauber’s letter.

“President Biden promised to have the most transparent administration in history but at every turn the Biden White House seeks to obstruct congressional oversight and hide information from the American people,” Comer said in a statement. “The White House informed us they will not provide the answers we have been seeking for the American people on important issues such as the border and fentanyl crises, the energy crisis, botched Afghanistan withdrawal, COVID origins, and the Biden family’s influence peddling. Why is the Biden Administration hiding this information? Republicans are undeterred by the Biden Administration’s obstruction and will continue pressing for the answers, transparency, and accountability that the American people deserve.”

The House Judiciary GOP blamed the White House on Twitter for leaking the letters, saying “this was clearly a planned and coordinated effort between the White House and ‘journalists’ at Politico. And it just shows how the media and White House will work hand-in-hand politically to obstruct legitimate constitutional oversight.”

“Last night, the White House LEAKS this ridiculous story to @politico and @HeidiReports,” they wrote. “At 4:34 a.m. this morning, the White House sends us the letter. Only after publication does Politico ask us for comment. ‘Good faith.'”

“Does leaking a story and sending a letter at 4:34 a.m. sound like ‘good faith’ to you, @JoeBiden? No. It shows how scared you are of important congressional oversight,” they continued.

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