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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 TrumpJudge rules to not release Russia probe documents over Trump tweets Trump and advisers considering firing FBI director after election: WaPo Obama to campaign for Biden in Florida MORE's national emergency declaration in the southern border.

The letter, which was signed by Chairman Jerry NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerMarijuana stocks see boost after Harris debate comments Jewish lawmakers targeted by anti-Semitic tweets ahead of election: ADL Democrats shoot down talk of expanding Supreme Court 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 PelosiTrump and advisers considering firing FBI director after election: WaPo On The Money: Power players play chess match on COVID-19 aid | Pelosi bullish, Trump tempers optimism | Analysis: Nearly 1M have run out of jobless benefits Overnight Health Care: CDC expands definition of 'close contact' after COVID-19 report | GOP coronavirus bill blocked in Senate | OxyContin maker agrees to B settlement with Trump administration MORE (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck SchumerChuck SchumerTrump casts doubt on hopes for quick stimulus deal after aides expressed optimism Schumer says he had 'serious talk' with Feinstein, declines to comment on Judiciary role Democrats seem unlikely to move against Feinstein MORE (D-N.Y.) said in a statement.