WASHINGTON — The House Intelligence Committee said today that it needs a better response from the White House on the existence of any presidential conversation recordings than an administration referral to President Trump’s Twitter account.
Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas), who is overseeing the panel’s Russia probe after chairman Devin Nunes’ (R-Calif.) recusal, and Ranking Member Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) sent White House Counsel Don McGahn a letter on June 9 wanting to know if there are or ever have been any White House recordings or memos of Trump’s conversations with former FBI Director James Comey.
They sent a separate letter to Comey at the same time, requesting his meeting notes, and asked both parties to submit materials to the committee by June 23.
Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs Marc Short sent a letter to Conaway and Schiff on June 23: “In response to the committee’s inquiry, we refer you to President Trump’s June 22, 2017, statement regarding this matter.”
That consisted of a pair of tweets posted by Trump: “With all of the recently reported electronic surveillance, intercepts, unmasking and illegal leaking of information, I have no idea whether there are ‘tapes’ or recordings of my conversations with James Comey, but I did not make, and do not have, any such recordings.”
Conaway and Schiff fired back today in another letter “urging the White House to appropriately and fully comply with the committee’s June 9 request.”
“The president’s statement on Twitter, and the White House’s letter referring to the president’s statement, were only partially responsive to the committee’s request,” the lawmakers said in a joint statement. “By only referring to the president’s statement, the White House’s letter stops short of clarifying for the committee whether the White House has any responsive recordings, memoranda, or other documents.”
“Today’s letter from the committee makes clear that should the White House not to respond fully, the committee will consider using compulsory process to ensure a satisfactory response.”
This week, 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta testified in closed session before the committee.
“The president and the entire administration were dealing with an unprecedented incidence of the weaponization,” Podesta told reporters about the Russia cyberattacks and President Obama’s response after the House Intel session.
Without divulging the contents of Podesta’s testimony, Schiff told MSNBC on Wednesday that his appearance before the committee was “valuable.”
“You know, part of our mission is not only to determine what the Russians did and whether the Russians had the help of any U.S. persons, but also what was the U.S. government response. How did they respond? How did the U.S. government, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security respond when we learned the Russians were in our computers? How did they respond when John Podesta learned that his e- mails had been hacked?” Schiff said.
“This was — obviously, went to the core of our democratic process and we need to learn because, as James Comey said, the Russians will be back more accurately,” he added. “In my view, the Russians have never left.”
Trump confidante Roger Stone is expected to tell his story to the committee behind closed doors on July 24.