Trump Doesn’t Want Congress to Know What He and Putin Have Talked About

Counsel to the President Pat Cipollone on Thursday rejected a demand made by House Democrats to hand over documentation of President Donald Trump‘s conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Cipollone’s letter to Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), and Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) is available for reading online. Cipollone said no and repeatedly said that the head of the executive branch cannot be compelled to divulge details of diplomatic conversations.

“For example, the letter of March 4 expressly seeks detailed information related to the President’s meetings and telephone calls with Russian President Vladimir Putin, as well as confidential communications between the President and his advisors before and after those meetings and telephone calls,” he began. “While we respectfully seek to accommodate appropriate oversight requests, we are unaware of any precedent supporting such sweeping requests.”

“It is settled law that the Constitution entrusts the conduct of foreign relations exclusively to the Executive Branch, as it makes the President ‘the sole organ of the federal government in the field of international relations,'” Cipollone continued. “[F]rom the Nation’s beginning, 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.”

Cipollone would add that the congressmen cited “no legal authority for the proposition that another branch of the government can force the President to disclose diplomatic communications with foreign leaders or that supports forcing disclosure of the confidential internal deliberations of the President’s national security advisors.”

[Image via Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images]

Matt Naham is managing editor of Law&Crime. He formerly worked as news editor and weekend editor at Rare.

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