The White House has instructed former administration officials Hope HicksHope Charlotte HicksNYT’s Haberman says it’s unfortunate criticism has become ‘extremely personal’ CNN’s Acosta says ‘neutrality for sake of neutrality’ doesn’t work in Trump era Ocasio-Cortez hits NYT over story on Hope Hicks: It’s framed ‘as some Lifetime drama’ MORE and Annie Donaldson not to turn over documents to the House Judiciary Committee that relate to their work at the White House.
House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerTop Judiciary Republican: Mueller believes ‘you’re guilty until we prove you innocent’ Seven key allies for Pelosi on impeachment Democrats are running out of stunts to pull from impeachment playbook MORE (D-N.Y.) had subpoenaed the two on May 21, setting a deadline of 10 a.m. on June 4 for them to produce documents and demanding they provide testimony – Hicks in a public appearance on June 19 and Donaldson in a closed-door deposition June 24.
CNN first reported the White House had instructed them not to turn over documents stemming from their time in the Trump administration sought by the subpoena. A committee source confirmed the development to The Hill.
Nadler said later in a statement that the move was evidence of President TrumpDonald John TrumpHead of anti-abortion group promises to spend M during 2020 election cycle Clyburn walks back comments about impeachment Transportation Department seeks to crack down on pipeline protests: report MORE’s “continued obstruction” of congressional investigations.
“The White House has instructed both Hope Hicks and Annie Donaldson not to turn over records in response to subpoenas issued by our Committee last month,” Nadler said. “The President has no lawful basis for preventing these witnesses from complying with our request.”
Nadler said Hicks has already provided some documents to the committee related to her time on the Trump campaign. And he argued the president, under federal law, can’t assert executive privilege over documents that have left the White House.
The White House did not immediately return a request for more information. It remains unclear whether the former officials will appear for testimony.
Democrats view both former White House officials as key witnesses as they look to further investigate President Trump’s conduct.
Special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerKey House panel faces pivotal week on Trump Mueller seeks quiet retreat from public life Democratic lawmaker: ‘The only thing I can get on TV to talk about’ is impeachment MORE interviewed both Hicks, the former White House communications director, and Donaldson, White House counsel Don McGahn’s former chief of staff, as part of his investigation and their testimony appears in his exhaustive report. The report also repeatedly references notes that Donaldson took in the course of her work under McGahn in the White House.
Nadler is pressing for specific documents – including Hicks’ diary and Donaldson’s notes that she kept while working under McGahn – in what appears to be an effort to obtain records that detail the day-to-day events that unfolded within the administration.
The White House has already blocked a number of requests Nadler has issued as part of his panel’s sweeping investigation into allegations of obstruction, public corruption and other abuses of power by President Trump and his associates.
Trump successfully instructed McGahn not to appear before the committee for public testimony last month, citing a Justice Department legal opinion arguing he is immune from compelled congressional testimony. The committee had subpoenaed McGahn for documents and testimony and threatened to hold him in contempt for failing to comply.
House leaders have scheduled a vote on June 11 to hold McGahn and Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrDOJ fires back at allegations over GOP strategist’s role in census citizenship question Press: Mueller must be called to testify House to hold Barr contempt vote over Mueller report next week MORE in contempt for failing to comply with the panel’s demands. Nadler had also issued a subpoena for the Justice Department to turn over Mueller’s full, unredacted report and underlying evidence to the committee, but Barr has thus far declined, saying it would amount to him violating the law by releasing grand jury material and details on ongoing investigations to Congress.
The White House also rejected the Judiciary panel’s sweeping request for documents, accusing the panel of attempting a “do-over” of Mueller’s investigation and suggesting Nadler narrow the scope of the request.
In an effort to push forward with his investigation and get around an uncooperative White House, Nadler announced on Monday a series of hearings on Mueller’s report that will call in witnesses to testify about the president’s conduct. The first one will feature former White House Counsel John Dean on June 10th.