Trump signals White House won't comply with Democratic probes

President TrumpDonald John TrumpHarris bashes Kavanaugh's 'sham' nomination process, calls for his impeachment after sexual misconduct allegation Celebrating 'Hispanic Heritage Month' in the Age of Trump Let's not play Charlie Brown to Iran's Lucy MORE on Tuesday signaled the White House will not comply with a barrage of congressional investigations, accusing Democrats in the House of launching the probes to hurt his chances of winning reelection in 2020.

“It's a disgrace to our country. I'm not surprised that it's happening. Basically, they've started the campaign. So the campaign begins,” Trump told reporters at the White House after signing an executive order on veterans’ suicide prevention.

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“Instead of doing infrastructure, instead of doing health care, instead of doing so many things that they should be doing, they want to play games,” he continued.

Trump suggested he was unwilling to comply with the House Judiciary Committee’s requests for documents related to 81 of his associates, citing what he said was former President Obama’s handling of congressional probes during his time in office.

“They didn't give one letter. They didn't do anything. They didn't give one letter of the requests,” he said.

The Obama administration released thousands of pages of documents, including a trove of Hillary Clinton’s personal emails, during House Republicans’ investigation of the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya.

The president’s remarks suggest the White House could invoke executive privilege or take other measures to shield internal documents or discussions from Democratic-led panels investigating Trump’s administration, campaign and businesses.

In a letter released earlier Tuesday, White House counsel Pat Cipollone rejected House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsPence extends olive branch to Cummings after Trump's Baltimore attacks Infrastructure needed to treat addiction as chronic disease doesn't exist GOP retreat creates WiFi password blasting socialism MORE's (D-Md.) request for documents related to security clearances for White House personnel.

Cipollone called Cummings’s demands “unprecedented and extraordinarily intrusive demands” and said the chairman “failed to point to any authority establishing a legitimate legislative purpose” for the request.

While the White House has yet to formally respond to Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler’s (D-N.Y.) sweeping demands, the letter and Trump’s remark signal the White House could take a similarly adversarial approach.

Trump on Monday used a more conciliatory tone in his first response to Nadler’s investigation, telling reporters that “I cooperate all the time with everybody.”

But Trump shifted his tone on Tuesday, accusing Nadler and other Democratic chairman of having “gone stone cold CRAZY” and attempting to “harass” dozens of “innocent people” who have worked in the White House and the Trump Organization with their document requests.

—This report was updated at 3:19 p.m.