Trump thinks he doesn't have to cooperate with congressional investigations. He's wrong.
Trump doesn't think he or his administration should have to provide any information to Congress if they don't feel like it, regardless of the law.
On Tuesday, Trump gave an interview to the Washington Post trying to explain his disorganized thinking about his complete refusal to cooperate with congressional investigations.
First, Trump tried to say that because the White House cooperated with the Mueller probe, he doesn't have to cooperate with Congress because "it's very partisan."
Three things are wrong with that assertion. First, even if Congress was being nakedly partisan, rather than trying to get to the bottom of Trump's boundless appetite for corruption, that isn't a reason one can refuse to provide information to Congress. Just ask Hillary Clinton, who endured eight different congressional investigations of Benghazi, mostly at the hands of rabidly partisan Republicans.
Next, Trump can hardly be said to have cooperated with the Mueller investigation. He only agreed to answer written questions, and most of those answers were him saying he didn't know or didn't recall.
Finally, even had he cooperated fully with the Mueller probe, it doesn't magically allow him to refuse to provide information to Congress. They are separate investigations conducted not only by different entities but by different branches of government entirely.
In fact, Trump's paltry cooperation with Mueller may have created a problem for him now.
Trump may try to tell administration personnel subpoenaed by the House that he is invoking executive privilege and therefore they cannot testify. Executive privilege is a real and necessary thing. It protects certain high-level executive branch communications so that presidents can freely deliberate in private. But it isn't a blanket privilege that can apply to all communications the president has with anyone for any reason.
And it is a privilege that can be waived.
Arguably, Trump waived the privilege when he let certain White House personnel, especially then-White House counsel Don McGahn, testify in the Mueller probe.
The White House is now trying to fight a congressional subpoena for McGahn to testify. But what McGahn told Mueller is now a matter of public record, which is the case for other White House personnel who testified as well. Trump can't put this genie back into the bottle and now insist none of those people can talk to Congress about something they've already discussed with the special counsel.
Trump is trying very hard to suppress information about his corrupt behavior. He told his former personnel security director, Carl Kline, to ignore a House subpoena. He sued to block the House from accessing his accounting records. And there's no doubt he's behind Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin's continued refusal to provide Trump's tax records to the House, even though the law requires it.
Trump once declared his administration to be the "most transparent in history." Like many of Trump's pronouncements, that's an outright lie.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.