By Mark Hosenball
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Democrats on a congressional oversight panel accused Republicans on Thursday of failing to insist that U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration comply with requests for records in an investigation of security clearance practices, use of private jets and private email accounts.
Democrats said that at a committee meeting on Thursday, Republicans blocked requests that the panel be allowed to consider, debate and vote on 13 motions to subpoena what the Democrats called “critical documents and testimony.”
Among the materials Democrats want subpoenaed are documents related to interim security clearances and testimony from Trump’s son-in-law and White House adviser Jared Kushner “related to his conflicts of interest and his actions leading to the stripping of his Top Secret security clearance.”
Federal investigators are looking into whether Kushner’s business talks with foreigners during the presidential transition had any influence on later White House policy, NBC News reported on March 2.
Representative Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform blamed Republican committee chairman Representative Trey Gowdy, for not pressing the White House enough.
During his tenure as chairman of the committee, Gowdy “has sought information from the White House in three separate investigations, but the White House has defied the Committee’s requests every time — with absolutely no repercussions,” Cummings wrote in an email to Reuters.
“It is now clear that the White House will not respond to this Committee unless it is compelled to do so,” Cummings said.
A spokeswoman for Gowdy had no immediate reply to a request for comment on Cummings’ statement.
Cummings sent Gowdy a letter last week noting that Gowdy had sent three letters to the White House seeking detailed information about its handling of security clearances. The only White House response to Gowdy described how it had set up a “working group” on the issue that would brief Gowdy’s committee “at the appropriate time,” Cummings said.
Last week, Amanda Gonzalez, a spokeswoman for Gowdy, said: “The Chairman finds the White House’s response inadequate, and we have communicated to the White House that we expect full compliance.”
At least six White House advisers used private email accounts last year to discuss White House matters, the New York Times reported in September. At least three Trump administration officials are being investigated by congressional panels for using private jets on official business.
(Reporting By Mark Hosenball; editing by John Walcott and Grant McCool)