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Trump signals White House may not comply with House Judiciary requests

Key Points
  • President Donald Trump appeared to suggest that the White House may refuse to comply with a slew of requests for documents from House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y.
  • "President Obama ... was under a similar kind of a thing, didn't get one letter. They didn't do anything. They didn't get one letter of the request, many requests were made, they didn't get a letter," Trump said at a White House event.
  • Trump's comment came one day after he signaled what appeared to be an intent to cooperate with the probe. "I cooperate all the time, with everybody," the president said Monday.
U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks during a conference with federal, state and local veterans leaders in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building November 15, 2018 in Washington, DC.
Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images

President Donald Trump on Tuesday appeared to suggest that the White House may refuse to comply with a slew of requests for documents sent this week by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y.

Speaking at a White House event, Trump cited what he said was the Obama administration's approach to handling document requests related to congressional investigations.

"President Obama, from what they tell me, was under a similar kind of a thing, didn't get one letter. They didn't do anything. They didn't get one letter of the request, many requests were made, they didn't get a letter," he said.

Trump's comment came one day after the president sounded a much more conciliatory note, telling reporters Monday, "I cooperate all the time, with everybody."

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Trump denounces House Judiciary Committee probe

The White House has yet to issue a formal response to Nadler's requests. But Trump's shift from a cooperative stance to a more confrontational one accelerated in the past 24 hours, beginning with a series of tweets late Monday and early Tuesday, and culminating in his remarks Tuesday afternoon.

Earlier in the day Tuesday, Trump tweeted that the broadening investigation into his administration represents, "The greatest overreach in the history of our Country. The Dems are obstructing justice and will not get anything done. A big, fat, fishing expedition desperately in search of a crime, when in fact the real crime is what the Dems are doing, and have done!"

It's unclear what Trump meant by Democrats "obstructing justice," but he later repeated the idea that any legislative progress would be effectively paralyzed if Democrats pursued the investigative avenues they have already opened up.

"Instead of doing infrastructure, instead of doing healthcare, instead of doing so many things that they should be doing, they want to play games," Trump said. "It's too bad, because I'd rather see them do legislation. We negotiated out legislation with so many things that we agreed on, like infrastructure, but they want to focus on nonsense."

On Monday, Nadler issued formal document requests to 81 Trump administration officials, entities and associates, including two of Trump's sons, Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr., as well as Trump's family owned real estate company, his 2016 campaign, his presidential transition and his inaugural committee.

Early signs indicate that several of the private individuals included on the list intend to cooperate with the committee, including Tom Barrack, Trump's longtime friend and chair of the inaugural committee.

It was unclear what particular "thing" Trump was talking about when he referred to Congress not getting "one letter" from Obama, and White House did not immediately respond to a request from CNBC to clarify the president's remarks.

One possibility could be that Trump was referring to the Obama administration's assertion of Executive Privilege in 2012, when it refused to turn over documents to the House Oversight Committee, which was investigating the Justice Department's flawed "Fast and Furious" gunrunning operation.