President Donald Trump‘s legal team appears to be preparing for all-out war with House Democrats who are looking to use their subpoena power to get whatever information they can about the president and his administration. The latest battle appears to be related to topics that have raised a number of questions, including how certain people received White House security clearance, and just what went on during certain meetings Trump had with foreign leaders.
According to the Washington Post, Trump’s attorneys and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone aren’t planning on just handing over these sorts of documents, as aides say the administration is citing executive privilege to claim they are protected from such Congressional requests. Indeed, a president’s communications can be kept secret if revealing them would disrupt the executive branch’s functioning or decision-making. This privilege does not cover information that’s relevant to a criminal investigation, but no such probe is currently taking place.
Security clearance has been a controversial subject with this administration, with advisers including Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner receiving clearance despite concerns from officials. Nevertheless, Trump has the power to override such objections, even though he’s claimed he has not done so. Democrats on the House Oversight Committee vowed to use their power to investigate the issue after a whistleblower came forward saying that in certain cases, “criminal conduct” was the basis for some of the objections to certain individuals getting clearance.
Trump’s discussions with foreign leaders are also of interest, particularly those with Russia’s Vladimir Putin. The Post previously reported on how records of such meetings appear to be virtually non-existent. Trump’s meeting with Putin in Helsinki last year has drawn significant interest, given Trump’s pro-Putin tone during a joint press conference with Putin at that summit.
Regardless of the reasons for Democrats seeking whatever records they can, Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani supports the administration’s refusal to play along.
“I wouldn’t cooperate with any of them,” Giuliani said. “I’d fight it tooth and nail.”
So far, that’s been the plan. Already, Trump’s lawyers put his accounting firm, Mazars USA, “on notice,” telling them not to comply with a subpoena requesting information about the president’s financial documents.
This approach towards House investigations is very different from Trump’s response to Special Counsel Robert Mueller‘s investigation. While Trump was publicly vocal about his opposition to the probe, his legal team claimed to be highly cooperative when it came to handing over documents.
[Image via Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images]