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Has The White House Responded To House Panel's Request For Documents?

Mar 19, 2019
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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

House Democrats say they already have tens of thousands of documents to sift through as part of their investigation of President Trump, his administration and his associates. But they were hoping to have even more work to do this week. Yesterday was the deadline for more than 80 people connected to the White House and the Trump campaign to turn over documents to the House Judiciary Committee. The chairman of that committee, Jerrold Nadler, gave some indication of what they got in an interview with MSNBC last night.

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JERROLD NADLER: We've gotten responses from surprising people. Like, for instance, Steve Bannon, who sent us a few-thousand documents. So we're encouraged, but we're going to have to analyze all this, obviously, and see where we go from here.

MARTIN: So former strategist to President Trump, Steve Bannon, appears to be cooperating, but that's not the case with everyone. And that could say a lot about the tone in Washington over the next couple of years. NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith joins us now. Good morning, Tam.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Good morning.

MARTIN: Has the White House officially responded to the committee yet?

KEITH: Not that we know of. And the expectation is that when they do respond, they will respond in a way that is similar to the way they've responded to the Oversight Committee and other requests that have come in, which is to be pretty combative and to question whether they should be required to turn things over. That is how the White House has handled other requests. And, you know, when the Nadler letters went out, when these letters from the Judiciary Committee went out a couple of weeks ago, the White House put out a statement that I think gives an indication of where their mindset is, calling this investigation disgraceful, abusive and a fishing expedition.

I also reached out to the campaign, and they told me that they did respond to the committee. They didn't say how they responded but referred me to a statement from before that called it a dramatic overreach and abuse of power and a witch hunt.

MARTIN: Words we have heard before. But I mean, all parties had to have been aware that this was going to happen. Right? I mean, when Democrats took control of the House, the White House had to expect that they were going to get more of these requests. And by the same token, the Democrats had to assume that this was going to be kind of a combative dynamic.

KEITH: Right. And a negotiation, if you will. And that's where this is now. The committee, as Congressman Nadler said, has received tens of thousands of documents, and now they need to work on getting the documents that they want and need from the entities and people who they haven't gotten them from. This will be an extensive back and forth, and the committee may not get absolutely everything they want. But this is going to be one of those things that drags on for a long time. It could end with the White House claiming executive privilege, but we aren't close to that at all yet.

MARTIN: So what do we know about what comes next?

KEITH: Well, what comes next is this negotiation process. And likely some public relations, as well, with the White House wanting to paint these investigations as an overreach, as they have with the Mueller investigation. And with the committee and Jerry Nadler in some ways saying, look, this is going well, we got stuff from Steve Bannon...

MARTIN: Right.

KEITH: ...And others.

MARTIN: NPR's Tamara Keith. Thanks so much, Tam.

KEITH: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.