White House Won’t Hand Over Documents on Trump-Putin Private Discussions, Enraging Congress
March 23, 2019 (EIRNS)—In a letter to the chairmen of the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, and Oversight Committees, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone wrote that the White House will not hand over documents pertaining to President Donald Trump’s private conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The three committee chairmen, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Rep. Elliot Engel (D-NY) and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) respectively, had demanded that “all documents and communications” referring to conversations between the two heads of state, including personal meetings and phone calls, be handed over by March 15. They received nothing on that date.
As Cipollone states in his letter, Politico reports, the demands from the committee chairmen
“cite 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.”
Moreover, he wrote,
“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.”
The White House Counsel argued that
“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 purpose.... 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).”
The White House response has provoked the expected degree of apoplexy from Democratic legislators who claim they have every right to know whether Trump is under Putin’s spell.