Cummings Presses Gowdy to Finally Confront White House on Obstruction of Bipartisan Private Email Investigation

Mar 14, 2018
Press Release

Cummings Presses Gowdy to Finally

Confront White House on Obstruction of

Bipartisan Private Email Investigation


White House Has Refused to Produce Documents for Months in

Response to Joint Request from Gowdy and Cummings


Cummings Seeks Subpoenas for White House and 16 Agencies

That Failed to Comply with Joint Request Since Last September


Washington, D.C. (Mar. 14, 2018)—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, sent a letter asking Chairman Trey Gowdy to issue a subpoena to compel the White House to finally produce documents it has been withholding for more than five months in response to a bipartisan request relating to top aides to President Trump using private email accounts on nongovernmental servers in violation of federal law.

Gowdy has launched three investigations of the Trump White House since becoming Chairman, and in all three cases the White House has stonewalled—with no repercussions.  In addition to his letter today on the private email investigation, Cummings sent a subpoena request to Gowdy on Friday after the White House refused to provide any new documents relating to security clearances.  Cummings sent a similar subpoena request yesterday after the White House refused to provide any documents about the President’s top aides traveling around the country on private jets at taxpayer expense.

On September 25, 2017, Cummings and Gowdy sent a bipartisan request for information about reports that the President’s top advisors—including Jared Kushner—were using personal email accounts on private servers to conduct official business in violation of federal law.  Serious concerns were raised about whether the emails were secure, whether they contained classified information such as “nonpublic travel documents, internal schedules, and some official White House materials,” and whether they violated the Presidential Records Act.

On October 10, 2017, the White House sent a six-paragraph response refusing to produce the requested documents.  White House officials claimed they were conducting an internal review, but they refused to provide a date by which they would finish or any information after it was done.  Although Cummings pressed Gowdy to continue the Committee’s own independent investigation, Gowdy sent his own letter to the White House agreeing to abandon the Committee’s investigation until an unspecified future date.

“When you served as Chairman of the Benghazi Select Committee, you took a completely different approach to investigating Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of private email,” Cummings wrote today.  “You demanded—and I supported—the production of all of her emails relating to Benghazi, and you did not wait for the Inspector General or the State Department to complete their own internal reviews.  You repeatedly called for an independent security review of her emails, and you showcased her use of private email as a potentially serious breach of national security.  As a result, many Republicans—including President Trump and his National Security Advisor Michael Flynn—used this as a rallying cry to call for criminal penalties.”

“In contrast, since President Trump assumed office, you have refused to insist on the production of documents we both requested five months ago, you have refused to request a security review of private emails, and you have refused to request even a single email from Mr. Kushner or anyone else at the White House, despite the fact that they apparently violated federal law,” Cummings continued.  “I believe these actions are inconsistent with both our charge on the Oversight Committee and your previous approach during the Obama Administration.  Now—more than five months after our bipartisan request—I ask that the Committee re-start our investigation and obtain all of the documents we requested last September.”

In a second, related letter today, Cummings asked Gowdy to issue subpoenas to compel 16 Trump Administration agencies to produce documents that were requested on a bipartisan basis more than five months ago regarding the use of personal email accounts to conduct official business.

On September 25, 2017, Cummings and Gowdy sent bipartisan letters to 25 agencies requesting information about the use of personal email accounts by their political appointees.  On October 20, 2017, the Committee sent follow-up letters to agencies in “partial” compliance and agencies that had not responded at all.

“Despite the fact that more than six months have now passed, 16 agencies have failed to produce all of the information we requested,” Cummings wrote.  “For example, the Department of Transportation has not provided anything we requested.  In addition, although other agencies have provided written responses with rhetoric about their efforts to comply with the law, many have provided little, if any, of the information we sought.”

“The Federal Records Act requires the preservation of records created in the conduct of our nation’s business because those records belong to the American people,” Cummings added.  “As the Committee of jurisdiction, we have the authority and responsibility to investigate whether federal agencies are complying with the statutory requirements.”

115th Congress