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 CummingsHouse committee heads demand Coast Guard Academy explain handling of harassment allegations Can the Democrats unseat Trump? Democrats slam alleged politicization of Trump State Department after IG report 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.

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"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 Trump Former US ambassador: 'Denmark is not a big fan of Donald Trump and his politics' Senate Democrats push for arms control language in defense policy bill Detroit county sheriff endorses Booker for president MORE's top advisers, including Ivanka TrumpIvana (Ivanka) Marie TrumpPresident tweets 'few work harder' than Ivanka, Jared Dick Cheney to attend fundraiser supporting Trump reelection: report Trump Jr. dismisses conflicts of interest, touts projects in Indonesia MORE and Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerPresident tweets 'few work harder' than Ivanka, Jared PETA billboard in Baltimore calls Kushner a 'rich pest' Top immigration aide experienced 'jolt of electricity to my soul' when Trump announced campaign 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 MuellerMueller report fades from political conversation Trump calls for probe of Obama book deal Democrats express private disappointment with Mueller testimony 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 ChaffetzHouse 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 GOP senators decline to criticize Acosta after new Epstein charges MORE (Utah) and Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdyRising star Ratcliffe faces battle to become Trump's intel chief Cummings announces expansion of Oversight panel's White House personal email probe, citing stonewalling Pelosi says it's up to GOP to address sexual assault allegation against Trump 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.