Dems want Interior employees to testify on nominee's schedule

A pair of high ranking House lawmakers are asking President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump announces new social media network called 'TRUTH Social' Virginia State Police investigating death threat against McAuliffe Meadows hires former deputy AG to represent him in Jan. 6 probe: report MORE’s nominee to lead the Interior Department to make his personal staff available to answer questions about his daily schedule, questioning whether he and other agency officials are “adequately preserving records.”

In a letter to acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt on Thursday, House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsFormer GOP congressional candidate Kimberly Klacik suing Candace Owens for defamation Former Cummings staffer unveils congressional bid McCarthy, GOP face a delicate dance on Jan. 6 committee MORE (D-Md.) and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) pressed for more details about the secretary’s daily schedule.

The two wrote that recent testimony and press reports "raise questions about whether you and other officials are adequate preserving records of your schedule and daily appointments."

The letter comes as advocacy groups and Democrats raise concerns over several meetings Bernhardt has held with industry representatives.

Cummings and Grijalva previously asked Bernhardt to provide them with detailed copies of his daily schedule, which they believed were not being fully released to the public, or under several Freedom of Information Act requests.

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In February, Bernhardt sent a letter back, saying he did not maintain his own schedule, and was not legally obligated to do so.

“I have no legal obligation to personally maintain a calendar,” he wrote. “I have not personally maintained a calendar for years, and I have no intention of suddenly doing so now.”

Instead, Bernhardt keeps a detailed schedule on a Google document that is overwritten daily. All of that information, including the topics of meetings he holds with his staff, are not released to the public.

Bernhardt said he does not personally maintain that calendar and the details he receives about his daily activities are made public.

The Interior Department reportedly released hundreds of versions of Bernhardt’s daily google document as part of more than 7,000 pages in documents in sent to Grijalva’s office on Monday 

Now the lawmakers are asking Bernhardt to make his staffers available for questioning about the details of his schedule.

“Due to the questions regarding the preservation and maintenance of your schedule, we ask that DOI contact the Committee on Oversight and Reform by April 8, 2019 to schedule transcribed interviews with the following individuals.”

The lawmakers listed the names of four Interior officials working in Bernhardt's office.

“These interviews will address the process through which DOI employees maintain your schedule and the process by which records of your activities are preserved and produced in response to FOIA requests,” they wrote.

Bernhardt was nominated by Trump to head the Interior department in February. The Senate held his nomination hearing Thursday morning. While Bernhardt was heavily questioned about his apparent conflicts of interest, the question about his schedule did not come up.

An Interior spokesperson said the agency is reviewing the request.