Throughout the 2016 presidential campaign Donald Trump made as big an issue of Hillary Clinton’s emails as he did pledging to make America white and evangelical, going so far as calling on his Russian facilitators to find and release illegally hacked documents. However, in what is a blatant display of hypocrisy Trump is renowned for, on Monday the White House officially designated Trump administration players’ email records off limits to the House Oversight Committee; the reason given was that Trump’s people “endeavor” to comply with all relevant laws. Apparently Trump regards the House Oversight Committee’s demands “irrelevant” to his administration.
The bipartisan request came from Trey Gowdy (R-SC) and Elijah Cummins (D-MD), and for their trouble they received a “terse” letter from Trump’s congressional liaison Marc Short. The request was for information “regarding the use of personal email and encrypted messaging apps for government work by White House staff.” Mr. Short also refused to hand over records Messers Gowdy and Cummings demanded regarding the use of expensive private air travel by administration officials.
In a two-page response to the Oversight Committee, Short said “The White House and covered employees endeavor to comply with all relevant laws.” It is noteworthy that Short said the Trump cabal only “endeavored” to comply with “relevant” laws, and if that were the case there was nothing to hide if they were really “trying” to comply with the laws.
The Trump response did not sit well with members of the Oversight Committee prompting member Gerry Connolly (D-VA) to remark:
“These were bipartisan requests to the White House related to the Administration’s private travel and email usage, and the White House has completely blown off the Committee. The Committee needs to assert its jurisdiction and authority immediately to get this information. If the White House won’t provide documents to permit basic oversight, the Chairman should send subpoenas.”
An aid to the Committee’s chairman said the Committee’s members “are currently in the process of evaluating whether there has been compliance, partial compliance or non-compliance” by Trump’s White House and other administration officials. The aide added “We expect full compliance.”
The requests from Gowdy and Cummings for details about the extent of the administration’s use of private email came after a report in POLITICO that Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, in particular was relying on his private email account to conduct official White House business. It was also revealed that Steve Bannon, Gary Cohn, Ivanka Trump and Reince Priebus used private email accounts for “public business;” it leads any thinking human being to believe the practice was widespread in the West Wing. Apparently Trump’s cohorts using private email accounts is different than former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton using a private email account.
The Committee’s September 25th letter to White House counsel Don McGahn specifically asked for the names of any Trump senior official who “had ever used a personal email account to conduct official business.” They also asked for “the individual, cellular number and account used” by any White House officials who communicated using “text-messages, phone-based message applications, or encryption software to conduct official business.” Trump said no; his administration “endeavors” to comply with the law and as usual he is not going to release anything showing his people violated the law. It is the only reason to blow off a House Oversight Committee request.
The White House gave a similar reply to the demand for details on administration officials use of charter jets, but didn’t even bother to lie that they were “trying” to abide by the law. Instead, Short claimed the committee’s inquiry was addressed to the White House chief of staff and since “not all components” of the White House “are under the supervision of the President’s Trump’s Chief of Staff,” the Committee is getting nothing.
The Committee asked for “a detailed breakdown of every flight on a government-owned aircraft” or a “private, non-commercial aircraft” used by “senior White House officials.” Of course the inquiry came on the heels of an investigation into costly flights taken by Tom Price, the former Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary who was forced out after reports he was fleecing the taxpayers. Since Price left his post, there have been several other Trump cabinet officials facing questions over chartering jets for expensive trips; like Trump’s weekly golf outings.
Trump’s congressional liaison wrote:
“The White House seeks to ensure employee travel is conducted through the most economic and expeditious means of transportation available.”
According to Washington Post writer Eugene Robinson, Trump’s liaison is lying. There is a fairly complete list of senior staffers and cabinet officials who are more concerned about “living large,” than they are “economic and expeditious means of travel.”
It is not out of line to assert that the only reason the Trump White House is refusing to “comply with the law” that gives the Oversight Committee authority to examine anything it deems necessary is because they have plenty to hide. If their communications and travel were in compliance with the law, they would have handed over everything the Committee demanded.
This is just another signal that although Trump is a dunce of epic proportions, he is also a dirty hypocrite and corrupt. He railed on the debunked Hillary Clinton email “controversy” non-stop to great effect, including calling on his Rusky comrades to do his bidding. Now he’s flouting the authority of the sole check on his dirty corrupt administration. And instead of drafting articles of impeachment, the Republican Chair of the Oversight Committee hopes they will issue a subpoena.