The Trump administration, under intense partisan fire on multiple fronts from Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives whose earlier Mueller investigation into his campaign failed, now has decided to cut off some good-faith efforts to respond to them.
Democrats who have simply been unable to accept the results of the 2016 election in which voters chose Trump’s “Make America Great Again” philosophy over Hillary Clinton’s agenda triggered the work of FBI special counsel Robert Mueller to review their claims of Trump campaign collusion with Russia during the race.
But Mueller found there wasn’t any, and Democrats turned to their plans to investigate his family, his taxes, his businesses and just about everything else.
Among Democrats’ moves has been one to repeatedly issue subpoenas to the White House and the president’s appointees for information, testimony and documentation.
Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd explained on Wednesday that Trump has been engaged in “good-faith efforts to satisfy the legislative needs of the committee,” in this case the House Oversight Committee headed, for now, by Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md.
But that’s no longer possible because of the Democrat majority’s precipitous plans for a contempt vote against Attorney General William Barra nd Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, he said.
The Hill reported the executive branch’s response Wednesday was to assert executive privilege over documents that Congress has been demanding.
The specific issue is the citizenship question on the 2020 Census. That question was on the nation’s census for many years, but removed in recent campaigns. The White House is asking that it be restored, to gain an accurate picture of the population of the country.
“By proceeding with today’s vote, you have abandoned the accommodation process with respect to your requests and subpoenas for documents concerning the secretary’s decision to include a citizenship question on the 2020 census,” Boyd wrote in a letter to Cummings.
“The executive branch has engaged in good-faith efforts to satisfy the legislative needs of the committee. Moreover, until the committee’s abrupt decision to seek a contempt resolution, the department was prepared to provide a significant number of additional documents responsive to the committee’s April 2, 2019 subpoena,” he continued.
“Unfortunately, rather than allowing the department to complete its document production, you have chosen to go forward with an unnecessary and premature contempt vote.”
Boyd explained Trump now asserts executive privilege over some of the paperwork the Democrats were demanding, and the Hill report said those included drafts of a letter from the Justice Department to Commerce Department officials asking for the citizenship question.
“Cummings blasted the administration over the assertion, saying that he has been asking for the documents at hand for over a year and questioning why the departments didn’t send their letters until moments before the vote was scheduled to be held,” the Hill reported.
Cummings had been told earlier that privilege, a principle that recognizes that there are some executive branch work-related paperwork to which Congress need not have access, would be invoked if he went ahead with the contempt vote plan, the report said.
Boyd told Cummings that, “This protective assertion ensures the president’s ability to make a final decision whether to assert privilege following a full review of these materials,” according to the Hill.
The Commerce Department’s Charles Rathburn also told Cummings, “The department regrets that you have made this assertion necessary by your insistence upon scheduling a premature contempt vote.”
Boyd included the explanation that Congress was demanding documents that are “attorney-client communications, attorney work product, and deliberative communications.”
“A federal court has already held many of these documents to be privileged in litigation,” the Hill said Boyd explained.
The census question is just one of dozens of fronts on which Democrats are attacking President Trump, whose election left them stunned and adrift with their agenda he chose not to support.
They’ve worked against the president on nearly every issue on which he’s moved, including illegal immigration, Iran’s nuclear program, the economy, and international relations.