- The Washington Times - Monday, June 24, 2019

House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings on Monday renewed his demand for documents and witness interviews related to President Trump’s communications with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In March, Mr. Cummings, Maryland Democrat, partnered with two other key Democrat House chairmen asking the White House to turn over “all documents and communications, regardless of form and classification,” that relate to communication between the two world leaders, including in-person meetings and telephone calls.

Mr. Cummings wrote in Monday’s letter that the White House rebuffed his previous request and the documents are crucial to a House probe of whether Mr. Trump destroyed records of his communications with Mr. Putin.

“I had hoped that the White House would cooperate voluntarily white this inquiry,” Mr. Cummings wrote. “Instead, the White House has disregarded these legitimate congressional inquiries and dissembled about basic facts. These actions do not serve the interests of the American people and the obstruct and frustrate the committee’s review.”

Mr. Cummings‘ letter gives White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney until July 8 to hand over the records.

In the March letter, Mr. Cummings was joined by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, California Democrat, and Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel, New York Democrat. They also made the same request to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, demanding the State Department allow the committees to interview staff with knowledge of the Trump-Putin talks.

White House attorney Pat Cipollone said the president has exclusive control over foreign affairs and Congress cannot demand disclosure of documents related to diplomatic communications.

“The president must be free to engage in discussions with foreign leaders without fear that those communications will be disclosed and used as fodder for partisan political purposes. And foreign leaders must be assured of this as well,” Mr. Cipollone wrote.

The Democrats’ initial inquiry came days after The Washington Post reported Mr. Trump went to great lengths to conceal notes and other information related to those one-on-one talks. During a summit last year, only translators were present during the two presidents’ sit-down talk.

Under federal law, Mr. Trump is required to preserve all documents related to his communications with Mr. Putin.

“President Trump is prohibited from disposing of records unless they ‘no longer have administrative, historic, informational or evidentiary value’ and he must first obtain the written views of the Archivist of the United States before disposing of these records,” Mr. Cummings wrote.

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