The Democratic presidents of the six House committees investigating a possible abuse of power by President Trump and his campaign activities and alleged foreign relations will require several executive agencies to preserve the information provided to him. Special advocate Robert S. Mueller III in the investigation of Russia's interference in the 2016 election, according to congressional advisers aware of the plan.
The six House leaders and their Democratic counterparts in the Senate signed a letter that will be sent to the Justice Department, the FBI, and the White House board office, among other agencies shortly after Mueller submitted his report to the House of Commons. Attorney General William P. Barr, signaling the conclusion of the investigation.
This is an effort to ensure that agencies keep correspondence, memos, reports and other documents if committees request it, said the collaborators. They spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss legislators' planning.
House Democrats struggled to obtain relevant documents for their investigations because of the administration's aggressive stance towards the Lower House, where the Democrats hold a majority. The White House, for example, has refused to hand over the requested documents in at least 15 letters written by congressional investigators on topics ranging from security checks to the personal letters of key Trump advisers, including President Ivanka Trump's daughter.
Beyond that, the Democratic presidents of the House say that other agencies and department heads have rejected at least 30 investigations of policy issues, according to a list provided to the Washington Post by senior Democrats charged with to supervise investigations. Democrats say the administration's strategy is an affront to congressional oversight responsibility.
On Friday, Trump dodged a question from a reporter about to know he was asking his staff not to follow up on congressional requests for information. "It's only the continuation of the same witch hunt," he said before leaving the White House to visit his Florida hotel, Mar-a-Lago. "It's just the continuation of the same nonsense. Everyone knows. They should go to work, make sure the infrastructure is finished, and do a lot of other things instead of wasting everyone's time. "
Under the Presidential Archives Act, all presidential archives, with the exception of copies, must be kept. Under the Federal Records Act, federal records must be retained until the US Archivist authorizes their destruction. Unauthorized voluntary destruction is a crime. The letter reminds agencies of these obligations and orders them to preserve the materials, said a congressional aide.
The quarrel could end in court. House Democrats discussed the publication of subpoenas to compel the administration to cooperate. But even in this case, the White House could claim the privilege of the executive power, forcing the daring Democrats to sue.
The CIA, the National Security Agency, the Office of the National Intelligence Director, as well as the Treasury and State Departments will also receive letters of preservation, Congressional advisers said.
Democrats in the House sent similar letters last year to most of the same agencies when Trump fired his first Attorney General, Jeff Sessions.
Mueller was appointed in May 2017 by Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein to investigate Russia's interference in the 2016 election, the potential hindrance to justice committed by the President and related issues.
Congressional investigations are broader and include actions that may not be federal crimes.
"Our job is to protect the law," said Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Chairman of the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives, one of six presidents signatories of the letter. Legislators, for example, are examining Trump's attacks on the media, the federal judiciary and law enforcement agencies. "We need to look at corruption issues, violations of the emoluments clause – it's much broader than Mueller's mission."
The other signatories are the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.); The Chair of the Oversight Committee, Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.); The President of Foreign Affairs, Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.); Richard E. Neal (D-Mass.), President of Ways and Means; and Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), President of Financial Services.
On the Senate side, the signatories include: Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Member of the Judiciary Committee; Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), Member of the Intelligence Committee, and Ron Wyden (D-Ore), Committee Member; Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Senior Member of the Foreign Relations Commission; and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), member of the Banking Committee.