Congress has no right to ‘do-over’ of Russia probe: White House counsel


(Reuters) – Congress has no right to conduct a “do-over” of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, the White House said in a letter blasting House Democrats’ “sweeping” requests for documents as an effort to harass political opponents.

File photo: South Lawn of the White House in Washington, U.S., June 5, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

The May 15 letter from White House counsel Pat Cipollone to House Judiciary Committee chair Jerrold Nadler takes the view that the committee’s probe serves no legitimate legislative purpose.

The letter was drafted in response to Nadler’s March 4 request for documents from the White House for a congressional investigation of allegations of obstruction of justice, public corruption and other abuses of power.

Cipollone asked the committee to narrow its “sweeping” request and provide a legislative purpose, and said many documents would be entitled to be withheld under executive privilege.

“The White House will not participate in the committee’s ‘investigation’ that brushes aside the conclusions of the Department of Justice after a two-year-long effort in favor of political theater pre-ordained to reach a preconceived and false result,” Cipollone’s 12-page letter said.

A spokesman for Nadler did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The documents requested by the Committee relate to everything from the contents of Trump’s meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin to his communications with former White House counsel Donald McGahn, the firing of former White House national security advisor Michael Flynn and former FBI director James Comey, and possible pardons for Trump associates who pleaded guilty to crimes stemming from the probe.

In addition, the committee is seeking documents aimed at probing whether Trump has used the White House to enrich himself in violation of the Constitution’s emoluments clause.

In his 448-page redacted report released last month, Mueller described numerous links between Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and various Russians, but concluded there was insufficient evidence to establish that the campaign engaged in a criminal conspiracy with Moscow.

    It also described attempts by Trump to impede Mueller’s probe, but stopped short of declaring Trump committed a crime.

Reporting by Karen Freifeld; Editing by Susan Thomas and James Dalgleish

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