House Judiciary Dems seek answers over Trump's national emergency declaration

Democrats in the House Judiciary Committee sent the White House a letter Friday demanding testimony from the White House counsel and Justice Department officials over President TrumpDonald John TrumpNew Jersey incumbents steamroll progressive challengers in primaries Tucker Carlson ratchets up criticism of Duckworth, calls her a 'coward' Trump on Confederate flag: 'It's freedom of speech' MORE's national emergency declaration in the southern border.

The letter, which was signed by Chairman Jerry NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerNadler wins Democratic primary Voters must strongly reject the president's abuses by voting him out this November Clyburn threatens to end in-person coronavirus committee hearings if Republicans won't wear masks MORE (D-N.Y.) and the Judiciary Subcommittee chairs and vice chair among others, excoriated Trump for declaring a national emergency, saying it showed a "reckless disregard for the separation of powers."

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“We believe your declaration of an emergency shows a reckless disregard for the separation of powers and your own responsibilities under our constitutional system," the letter read.

“By fabricating an emergency in order to bypass the political process for allocating a budget, you appear to be abusing both this trust and your own oath of office,” the letter also said.

The Democrats also slammed Trump for appropriating $8.1 billion dollars for his border wall, citing a decline in border crossing attempts and apprehensions of undocumented immigrants crossing from Mexico.

The letter demanded answers to a series of questions, including if the White House sought an opinion from the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) or from the Pentagon prior to Friday’s announcement and what the White House’s legal basis was for the declaration.

It also requested copies of documents or communications between the White House and Justice Department employees regarding the national emergency declaration.

The Democrats called for White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and unnamed Justice Department officials to be made available for testimony. 

Trump officially declared a national emergency Friday to boost funding for a barrier on the southern border after Congress allocated less than the $5.7 billion he had sought.

Democratic leaders also swiftly rebuked the move as an unnecessary overreach that exceeded Trump’s constitutional powers.

“This is plainly a power grab by a disappointed President, who has gone outside the bounds of the law to try to get what he failed to achieve in the constitutional legislative process,” Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiClash looms over next coronavirus relief bill Trump's WHO decision raises bipartisan concerns in House Five takeaways from PPP loan data MORE (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck SchumerChuck SchumerTrump may be DACA participants' best hope, but will Democrats play ball? Pompeo: US 'certainly looking at' ban on Chinese social media apps like TikTok Russian bounties revive Trump-GOP foreign policy divide MORE (D-N.Y.) said in a statement.