U.S. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler said on Wednesday that the White House's refusal to cooperate with his panel's probe of allegations of obstruction of justice and abuses of power by President Donald Trump was "preposterous" and puts the president above the law.
In his letter, Cipollone repeated a claim the White House and Trump's business have begun making: that Congress is not a law enforcement body and does not have a legitimate objective to investigate the questions it is pursuing.
Cipollone also said the White House has made efforts to accommodate Congressional information requests, including releasing special counsel Robert Mueller's report, which he said made the committee's requests irrelevant.
He also questioned whether the House investigation is a "legitimate exercise of oversight authority" and says the White House will "resist the overbroad demands".
They have issued subpoenas and Nadler's committee has voted to recommend a contempt of Congress charge against Attorney General William Barr for refusing to give lawmakers the unredacted Mueller report and underlying evidence. In a statement accompanying the 81 wide-ranging document requests, Nadler said that "Investigating [President Trump's] threats to the rule of law is an obligation of Congress and a core function of the House Judiciary Committee".
"Under the circumstances, the appropriate course is for the Committee to discontinue the inquiry discussed in the March 4 letter", he wrote. The senior official contended the administration will comply with all "legitimate" requests that Nadler can show are "relevant" to "some legislative objective".
Though Trump has not formally asserted executive privilege, "it may come to that", a senior White House official told reporters Wednesday.
Cipollone also said that, due to the apparent duplicative nature of the House investigation and the lack of an underlying legislative objective for them, "the requests raise serious concerns of violating the separation of powers enshrined in the Constitution".
"Congressional investigations are meant to obtain information to aid in evaluating potential legislation", wrote Cipollone, "not to harass political opponents or to pursue an unauthorized "do-over" of exhaustive law enforcement investigations conducted by the Department of Justice".
White House-connected people who received requests from the committee include former White House counsel Donald McGahn, former adviser Stephen K. Bannon, former communications chief Hope Hicks and former chief of staff Reince Priebus and current adviser Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law.
No headway was made on establishing a testimony date for Mueller, according to Nadler, who said earlier that morning that the Justice Department was "reluctant" to allow the special counsel or McGahn to testify.
Nadler further warned that if the White House continues to not comply with congressional subpoenas, House Democrats will seek to impose "very large" fines on individuals found to be in contempt through the inherent contempt process.
Nadler on Wednesday said he didn't know the White House's motives, but he would not allow the White House to try to claim that the President can not be held accountable.