White House refuses to provide some Trump–Russia information to congressional investigators

[ Originally published on this site as post ]

The Trump White House is fully cooperating with the Russia investigation—for certain limited forms of the word “cooperating.” And for no forms of the word “fully.” They’ve turned over a number of documents to the Department of Justice, which are presumably in the hands of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team, but they’ve been much less open to providing documents for investigators in Congress.

Tension is rising between congressional investigators probing Russia meddling and the Trump administration, as the White House and Justice Department withhold a number of records sought by Capitol Hill at a critical time in the investigations.

Operating on parallel tracks from special counsel Robert Mueller, the three congressional committees probing Russia’s election meddling have asked for scores of documents related to everything from Jared Kushner’s security clearance to records surrounding President Donald Trump’s discussions with James Comey before he was fired as FBI director.

From day one, the Trump White House has pretended to an extreme interpretation of “executive privilege”—one that protects every conversation with Trump or other high officials without even having to be declared. It’s a radical interpretation that Jeff Sessions leaned on back in June.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday declined to answer certain questions during his Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, citing an obligation to protect the privacy of his communications with the president.

The Trump version of executive privilege expands on the idea enormously, giving Trump a preemptive strike on any information, delivered in any way. And now the Sessions-led DOJ seems to be expanding this theory to both documents and people.