The White House says it isn't going to comply with a "radically intrusive" request from Democrats to see documents related to the controversial top-secret security clearance of Jared Kushner. In a letter to the House Oversight Committee, White House counsel Pat Cippolone argued that the committee did not have the authority to seek documents or interviews related to the clearances. "We will not concede the Executive's constitutional prerogatives or allow the Committee to jeopardize the individual privacy rights of current and former Executive Branch employees," he said. Cippolone said the White House would brief the committee on the security clearance process, but would not provide documents specific to Kushner, whose clearance was reportedly ordered by President Trump.
The move makes it more likely that the House committee will issue a subpoena, though Elijah Cummings, its Democratic chairman, hasn't confirmed whether he will do so. Cummings tells CNN that the Trump administration is "reluctant" to give the committee the information it needs to do its job, and "when you cannot get information, you cannot be a check." "Under the Constitution, we have a duty—it's not some witch hunt, it's a duty, a sworn duty, by the way—to be a check on the executive branch," he says. In his response to Cippolone, Cummings said the lawyer, in defiance of precedent and "plain common sense," appears to be "arguing that Congress has no authority to examine decisions by the Executive Branch that impact our national security," Politico reports. (Read more Jared Kushner stories.)