The Trump administration is telling federal agencies to ignore Democratic lawmakers’ oversight requests, as Republicans fear the information could be used against President Donald Trump, Politico reports.
White House lawyer Uttam Dhillon recently told agencies not to cooperate with such requests from Democrats, according to Republican sources inside and outside the administration. Democrats have already complained that their oversight letters requesting information from agencies have gone unanswered since January, and the Trump administration has not yet explained why this has happened.
The declaration amounts to a new level of partisanship in Washington, where the president and his administration already feel under pressure by media reports and attacks from Democrats. The idea, Republicans said, is to choke off the Democratic congressional minorities from gaining new information that could be used to attack Trump.
“You have Republicans leading the House, the Senate and the White House. I don’t think you’d have the Democrats responding to every minority member request if they were in the same position”, a White House official said.
A White House spokeswoman said the policy of the administration is “to acknowledge the requests of chairmen, regardless of their political party.”
The administration also responds to “all non-oversight inquiries, including the Senate’s inquiries for purposes of providing advice and consent on nominees, without regard to the political party of the requester,” the spokeswoman said.
“Multiple agencies have, in fact, responded to minority member requests. No agencies have been directed not to respond to minority requests”, she underscored.
Republicans said that Obama’s administration was not always quick to respond to them and sometimes ignored them. However, the Obama administration never ordered agencies to stop cooperating with Republican oversight requests altogether, making the marching orders from Trump’s aides that much more unusual, Politico reports.
“What I do not remember is a blanket request from the Obama administration not to respond to Republicans,” said a former longtime senior Republican staffer.
There are some exceptions to the Trump administration order, particularly from national security agencies, Democrats and Republicans said. Agencies will also comply if a Republican committee chairman joins the Democratic requests, but ranking members’ oversight requests are rejected.