White House rejects House Dems' request for documents on Trump-Putin talks

Communications by Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner are being investigated by the House Oversight and Reform Committee

The Democratic head of a U.S. congressional investigative panel is pressing the White House for information on whether Donald Trump's son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner, used the encrypted WhatsApp messaging service and private email to communicate sensitive or classified information with foreign leaders.

"Our Committees are in receipt of the White House Counsel's letter, which continues a troubling pattern by the Trump Administration of rejecting legitimate and necessary congressional oversight with no regard for precedent or the constitution", the chairmen said.

Lowell would not tell the committee whether Kushner had ever used WhatsApp to discuss classified information.

Aside from the Kushners, the House committee said other officials such as the former deputy national security adviser K.T. McFarland and former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon used their personal email accounts to talk about the "transfer of sensitive USA nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia".

President Trump's adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner used the encrypted messaging service WhatsApp as well as his personal email account to conduct official business, a top House Democrat charged Thursday.

He gave the White House until April 4 to provide documentation the committee requested for its investigation and asked the administration to describe whether the emails Ivanka Trump sent on her personal account contained sensitive or classified information.

Cummings said the administration has not provided the panel with a "single piece of paper" since he requested a batch of records - as well as a briefing by White House officials - last December. "No foreign leader would engage in private conversations with the President, or the President's senior advisors, if such conversations were subject to public disclosure (or disclosure to committees of Congress)", he wrote.

The White House sent a letter to Schiff and other committee chairmen explaining why it had refused to hand over communications with Russian Federation.

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In his response, White House counsel Pat Cipollone said a president's communications with foreign leaders are confidential and protected by executive privilege.

The president initially indicated that he would cooperate with the Judiciary Committee, but White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders just hours later called the probe "a disgraceful and abusive investigation into exhausted, false allegations".

Other government officials, including Vice President Mike Pence (when he was governor of Indiana) have been found to have used private emails for government work.

Cummings is asking the White House whether these communications were properly preserved.

The FBI investigated Clinton for her use of a personal email account and a private email server while serving as secretary of state, although the bureau ultimately found no basis for charging her.

In the years since Mrs. Clinton left the State Department a new law was passed that does require government business to be transacted on official accounts - or at the least for official messages sent to personal emails to be forwarded. Kushner was also caught using a private email for government business in September 2017.

Robert Giuffra, a lawyer for McFarland, declined comment. He demanded that the White House say by March 28 whether it intends to comply voluntarily with the renewed requests.

"If you continue to withhold these documents from the Committee", Cummings added, "we will be forced to consider alternative means to obtain compliance", a not-so-veiled allusion to a possible subpoena.

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