Former White House counsel Don McGahn, White House strategist Steve Bannon, and Trump’s former chief of staff Reince Priebus will not turn over records to Congress from their period at the White House without the administration’s approval, their lawyer Bill Burke told lawmakers, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The House Judiciary Committee, which requested documents from 81 individuals and entities, was told to contact the White House for the materials, the person said.
This comes amid a growing fight between House Democrats and the White House over a range of investigations – after the White House has ignored a number of deadlines set by Democratic chairmen, who now wield subpoena power.
The White House missed a March 19 deadline to turn over documents to the House Judiciary Committee investigation into whether President Donald Trump abused his power while in office.
By deferring, it effectively puts the decision over what documents the Hill receives to the White House counsel’s office, which is expected to assert executive privilege over some of the contents. The White House previously walled off certain topics that the House Intelligence Committee could ask certain witnesses last year.
This person said the Mueller report’s findings of no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government is likely to embolden the White House to resist turning over materials.
Separately, some lawyers are telling the House committee that if they want information and documents relating to a witness’ work on the Trump campaign that they need to request the information from the campaign, according to two people familiar with the matter.
The Trump Organization has also refused to turn over documents citing a conflict of interest it says was created when the House Judiciary Committee hired a lawyer whose law firm has represented the real estate company in the past.
Still the committee is gaining the cooperation of a number of witnesses either fully or in part.
GOP aides said last week that the committee had received thousands of pages of documents from several witnesses, including Bannon who turned over 2,688 pages. Others who have responded to the document request, include Trump donor and friend Tom Barrack who gave 3,349 pages and the National Rifle Association, which turned over 1,466 pages. The committee also received 104 pages from Trump’s inaugural committee.
Hope Hicks, Trump’s long-time confidante who also served as his communications director, plans to cooperate with the committee’s request, a spokesman for House Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler previously told CNN. Hicks was stopped from answering questions during an interview with the House Intelligence Committee last year relating to the time she worked in the White House and she is expected to abide by similar restraints from the White House.
Former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, former campaign aide JD Gordon, former Trump adviser Sam Nunberg and Trump Tower meeting participants Rinat Akhmetshin and Ike Kaveladze have also complied with the request. Brittany Kaiser of Cambridge Analytica will also cooperate.