Cummings announces expansion of Oversight panel's White House personal email probe, citing stonewalling

Cummings announces expansion of Oversight panel's White House personal email probe, citing stonewalling
© Greg Nash

The head of the House Oversight and Reform Committee is expanding its investigation into whether White House officials used personal email accounts to conduct official business, while also blasting the Trump administration for failing to provide a single requested record so far.

Committee Chairman Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsMichael Steele: Celebrating Elijah Cummings, a servant and a leader Republicans seek to delay effort to censure Schiff after Cummings' death House leaders offer tributes from floor to Elijah Cummings MORE (D-Md.) in a letter on Monday asked the White House to turn over copies of all emails and other communications in which administration officials may have violated federal law as well as the White House’s records policy.

ADVERTISEMENT

"I am writing to inform you that, due to your complete refusal to produce a single document in response to the Committee’s investigation of the use of personal email and messaging accounts by White House officials, the Committee is now expanding its request to seek copies of all communications sent or received in violation of federal law and the White House’s own records policy," the letter reads.

The expansion comes amid what Cummings described as blatant stonewalling by the administration as the committee seeks to conduct its oversight probe.

In December, Cummings asked for records on President TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocratic senator rips Trump's 'let them fight' remarks: 'Enough is enough' Warren warns Facebook may help reelect Trump 'and profit off of it' Trump touts Turkey cease-fire: 'Sometimes you have to let them fight' MORE's top advisers, including Ivanka TrumpIvana (Ivanka) Marie TrumpBiden praises Buttigieg for criticizing GOP attacks: 'That's a good man' Buttigieg knocks Trump as a 'walking conflict of interest' Stephen Miller defends Trump, accuses Democrats of 'witch hunt part two' MORE and Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerButtigieg knocks Trump as a 'walking conflict of interest' Biden's weak response to Trump is a lesson for Democratic candidates Mark Hamill zings Ivanka Trump for 'Star Wars' tweet MORE as well as any other non-career officials.

Now Cummings says he wants that previously requested information as well as "all presidential records sent or received by non-career officials at the White House using non-official electronic messaging accounts,” all documents related to allegations or evidence of misuse and all communications in which White House employees discussed the possibility of non-career officials sending messages that could've included classified information from their personal email accounts.

Under the Presidential Records Act, White House employees are not allowed to create or send a record “using a non-official electronic message account." If they do, they must forward complete copies of such communications to their official account.

A GOP spokesperson for Oversight described Cummings' latest letter as "yet another example of Democrats’ obsession with finding some rationale to impeach the President.”

“The Presidential Records Act was not intended to create a fishing license for Chairman Cummings to pry into the private communications of the first family," the spokesperson said in a statement.

Cummings noted that in the time since he sent his initial requests, the committee has received further evidence of such violations, including from former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerFox News legal analyst says Trump call with Ukraine leader could be 'more serious' than what Mueller 'dragged up' Lewandowski says Mueller report was 'very clear' in proving 'there was no obstruction,' despite having 'never' read it Fox's Cavuto roasts Trump over criticism of network MORE's investigation.

Trump's former adviser Stephen Bannon told Mueller that he “regularly used his personal Blackberry and personal email for work-related combinations (including those with [Erik] Prince), and he took no steps to preserve them," according to the report.

The chairman noted that some of these information requests were made by the panel's former Republican chairmen, including former Reps. Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzElijah Cummings, Democratic chairman and powerful Trump critic, dies at 68 House Oversight panel demands DeVos turn over personal email records The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - Trump attack on progressive Dems draws sharp rebuke MORE (Utah) and Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdyElijah Cummings, Democratic chairman and powerful Trump critic, dies at 68 CNN catches heat for asking candidates about Ellen, Bush friendship at debate The Hill's Morning Report — Arrest of Giuliani associates triggers many questions MORE (S.C.). 

And while he notes White House lawyers have provided brief replies, Cummings called their responses "deficient."

"Unfortunately, over the past six months since I sent my letter, you have not produced a single document, you have not provided any of the requested briefings, and you have not offered any timeline by which these requests will be fulfilled," Cummings wrote in a statement.

"The White House’s complete obstruction of the Committee’s investigation for the past six months is an affront to our constitutional system of government," his statement concludes.