Congressional Democrats accuse White House of ‘stonewalling’

Congressional Democrats are turning up political pressure on the White House, accusing the Trump administration of resisting efforts to turn over documents related to a series of wide-ranging investigations.

Members of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform say they’ve sought documents since Democrats took control of the House of Representatives in January. But they say the White House has all but ignored their requests.

“Essentially, the White House has been stonewalling the committee,” Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., who’s a member of the panel, said Wednesday. “Now that we’re in the majority, the consequences of stonewalling become more serious.”

Connolly said that if the White House doesn’t take the requests more seriously, the executive branch could be facing subpoenas and “possibly even contempt citations.”

The chairman of the oversight committee, Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post, criticizing the White House for not handing over any documents or producing any witnesses for interviews, despite 12 letters on a half-dozen topics sent by his panel.

The topics have included White House security clearances. Among those under scrutiny is the security clearance given to President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner. He was given a security clearance despite objections from various officials, including former White House chief of staff John Kelly.

The White House has said Congress doesn’t have a right to information about individual employees. And the president has said the investigations by congressional Democrats amount to “presidential harassment.”

The House Judiciary Committee has issued requests for documents and information from 81 people and entities, as part of its ongoing investigations into the president, his former campaign and the Trump Organization. The committee’s chairman, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-NY, indicated this week that his panel received responses from some individuals by a Monday deadline.

Politico later reported that only a fraction of the people and organizations linked to the president — eight — had turned over documents as of Tuesday morning.

The political tug-of-war between House Democrats and the White House is only expected to intensify in the coming weeks. Congress and the White House are waiting for the special counsel’s report into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign.

Trump expressed confidence Wednesday that Attorney General William Barr will properly handle the report and said, “Let people see it.”

He also reiterated, as he has many times, that there was no collusion with the Russians.

The president said he didn’t know when the report from Robert Mueller will be released.

Democratic lawmakers have raised concerns that Barr might not fully release the Mueller report. The House voted unanimously last week for a resolution urging that the report be made public and sent to Congress.

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