What is the White House hiding?
The White House is stonewalling a congressional inquiry into whether some of Trump's former lawyers may have lied to federal officials about hush money payments from Trump to adult film actress Stormy Daniels.
In a Monday letter to Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), chair of the House Oversight Committee, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone turned down the committee's recent request to make one of the former Trump lawyers available to answer questions.
As Cummings informed Cipollone last month, the committee has uncovered new evidence about possible false statements by the Trump attorneys — and not just Michael Cohen, Trump's former fixer who was convicted of felonies that he says Trump directed him to commit.
The possible false statements involved hush-money payments from Trump not only to Daniels, but also to other women Trump may have had affairs with. The goal of the payments, according to both Cohen and federal prosecutors, was to influence the 2016 election.
"It now appears that President Trump's other attorneys — at the White House and in private practice — may have provided false information about these payments to federal officials," Cummings wrote last month. He specifically named Sheri Dillon, Trump's personal attorney, and Stefan Passantino, the former Deputy White House Counsel for Compliance and Ethics.
But rather than cooperate with a legitimate congressional inquiry, Cipollone adamantly refused to allow Passantino — who now works for the Trump Organization — to speak with Cummings.
"In response to your request, given longstanding law and practice, we are not inclined to make the former Deputy Counsel to the President available for a transcribed interview inquiring into his conversations and advice he provided while serving as Deputy Counsel to the President," Cipollone wrote, according to CNN.
Cipollone also used the letter as an opportunity to whine about the way Cummings is conducting his investigation.
The letter stating the White House will not cooperate is not the end of the story. In an interview with CNN last week, Cummings said he was determining what he might do if this very situation occurred. Cummings has the power to issue subpoenas to demand documents and compel testimony from uncooperative witnesses.
In 2018, voters opted to empower a new majority in the House, in part to hold the Trump administration accountable. Part of holding Trump accountable means getting to the bottom of his hush money payments to various alleged mistresses that served to prevent voters from hearing their stories.
Cipollone's refusal to cooperate raises the obvious question: What is the White House hiding?
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.