Late last month, the House Judiciary Committee issued subpoenas to former White House communications director Hope Hicks and former deputy White House counsel Annie Donaldson for documents and testimony. On Tuesday, the Trump administration directed Hicks and Donaldson to defy the subpoenas. In other words, they were directed to break federal law. The move is not surprising considering the administration’s growing disregard for the law as it seeks to stonewall the efforts of Democratic lawmakers to conduct oversight. “We’re fighting all the subpoenas,” Trump announced to reporters in April.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) was not pleased with the development, but noted that Hicks has already agreed to turn over “some documents … related to her time working for the Trump Campaign.”
“The President has no lawful basis for preventing these witnesses from complying with our request,” he added. “We will continue to seek reasonable accommodations on these and all our discovery requests and intend to press these issues when we obtain the testimony of both Ms. Hicks and Ms. Donaldson.”
Here is Nadler statement. Hicks will turn over some documents from her tenure in the trump campaign pic.twitter.com/APwErCAzoE
— Alana Abramson (@aabramson) June 4, 2019
The White House is arguing the documents requested by the committee fall under executive privilege. Nadler doesn’t think so. “Federal law makes clear that the documents we requested — documents that left the White House months ago — are no longer covered by executive privilege, if they ever were.”
Last month, the Trump administration directed White House counsel Don McGahn to defy a similar subpoena for documents. McGahn honored the request from the White House. “The committee seeks to compel Mr. McGahn to produce White House documents the executive branch has directed that he not produce,” McGhan’s attorney William Burck wrote in a letter to the committee.
McGahn, whose testimony regarding the president’s potential obstruction of justice was featured prominently in the Mueller report, also refused to testify, prompting Nadler to threaten to hold him in contempt of Congress. “Let me be clear: This Committee will hear Mr. McGahn’s testimony, even if we have to go to court to secure it,” Nadler said when McGahn did not show up for his May 21st testimony. “We will not allow the president to prevent the American people from hearing from this witness,” Nadler said at a hearing Tuesday for McGahn that the former White House lawyer skipped per the administration’s orders.
When asked on Tuesday whether he would hold Hicks and Donaldson in contempt of Congress should they heed the request from the White House to defy their subpoenas, Nadler said, “I assume so.”
On Monday night, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-NY) announced that the House will vote next Tuesday on whether to hold McGahn and Attorney General Willliam Barr, who refused to testify and turn over an unredacted version of the Mueller report, in contempt of Congress, adding that other officials could be added to the vote.
“I see every name who has refused to respond to congressional subpoenas or documents, or has been instructed by the president not to respond, [being] subject to being on that list,” Hoyer told reporters on Tuesday. “I’m not going to try to name all of them.”