House Democrats slam White House's 'complete refusal' to turn over hurricane probe documents

House Democrats slam White House's 'complete refusal' to turn over hurricane probe documents
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House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsThe Postal Service collapse that isn't happening House Democrat reintroduces bill to reduce lobbyist influence The Hill's Campaign Report: Amash moves toward Libertarian presidential bid MORE (D-Md.) and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Harley RoudaHarley Edwin RoudaGloves come off as Democrats fight for House seat in California Gun control group rolls out House endorsements Human Rights Campaign rolls out congressional endorsements on Equality Act anniversary MORE (D-Calif.) wrote a letter decrying the White House's "complete refusal" to turn over documents related to investigations into its handling of Hurricanes Irma and Maria and threatening to use a ''compulsory process" to get the documents.  

The lawmakers accused the administration of withholding the documents regarding preparation and response to the hurricanes' effects on Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands in a Monday letter to acting White House Chief of Staff Mick MulvaneyMick Mulvaney12 things to know today about coronavirus Mulvaney: 'We've overreacted a little bit' to coronavirus The Memo: Trump agenda rolls on amid pandemic MORE

They also contrasted the response to that of former President George W. Bush's administration's handing over of thousands of documents on Hurricane Katrina.


“Due to your complete refusal to produce a single piece of paper in response to the Committee’s investigation of the Trump Administration’s preparation for and response to Hurricanes Irma and Maria in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Committee will have no choice but to seek compulsory process,” wrote Cummings and Rouda.

They condemned the White House's "unacceptable" noncompliance with requests "particularly when they are based on strong, clear, and bipartisan precedents, and especially when they relate to the death of thousands of American citizens.”

“Your actions stand in stark contrast to the Bush Administration, which produced tens of thousands of documents in response to a nearly identical request," they added, noting that the Bush White House turned over more than 12,000 pages from the president’s office and nearly 6,000 pages from the vice president’s office.

The two said that they made the request May 6 and asked for the documents by May 20. They noted that the May request follows an identical request from October 2017. 

Cummings and Rouda asked for the documents by July 10 and said that if the White House turn them over, they will seek to “obtain these documents through alternative means."

A senior administration official told The Hill in a statement on Tuesday that the White House has received the letter and is considering its response.

A GOP spokesperson for the committee said that Cummings was “manufacturing a controversy.” 

“Just last year, Oversight Democrats acknowledged that the Trump Administration had already turned over more than 17,000 documents related to the Committee’s hurricane investigation,” the spokesperson said. “Although the Committee has already held two hearings on hurricane response efforts, interviewed numerous witnesses, and been in regular contract with FEMA, nothing from the Administration will satisfy Chairman Cummings unless it furthers Democrats’ impeachment efforts.”

Hurricanes Irma and Maria hit the islands in 2017. 

Updated at 4:47 p.m.