The White House this week continued to dig in against Democrats’ efforts to hear from Trump administration officials, declaring in a letter to Congress that top presidential advisor Stephen Miller would not comply with a request from the House Oversight Committee to testify on the president’s immigration policies.
“In accordance with long-standing precedent, we respectfully decline the invitation to make Mr. Miller available for testimony before the Committee,” chief White House Counsel Pat Cipollone wrote to committee chairman Rep. Elijah Cummings on Wednesday.
The precedent for members of the White House staff to decline invitations to testify before congressional committees has been consistently adhered to by administrations of both political parties, and is based on clearly established constitutional doctrines.
Cipollone’s letter comes just under two weeks after Cummings invited Miller, Trump’s chief white nationalist and architect of some of the administration’s cruelest immigration policies, to testify before the Oversight Committee.
In his April 17 invitation to Miller, Cummings acknowledged that Miller’s testimony was entirely voluntary, but wrote that:
I am offering you an opportunity to make your case to the Committee and the American people about why you—and presumably President Trump—believe it is good policy for the Trump Administration to take the actions it has, including intentionally separating immigrant children from their parents at the border to deter them from coming to the United States, transferring asylum seekers to sanctuary cities as a form of illegal retribution against your political adversaries, and firing top Administration officials who refuse orders to violate the law.
The White House, evidently, did not feel the need for Miller to make that case, although Cipollone hilariously concluded his rejection of Cummings’ invitation by stating that: “If our office can be of further help to the Committee with respect to this important policy issue please let us know.”
This latest example of administrative stonewalling comes as part of a larger strategy from the Trump White House to refuse, reject, and stall effectively all requests from congressional Democrats, including most recently pushing back on a subpoena for Justice Department official John Gore to testify before the same committee.
And while the administration’s efforts to shield themselves from any sort of congressional oversight are genuinely troubling, at least House Democrats won’t be subjected to hours of listening to Miller’s certified dick-voice. A small victory, but a victory nonetheless.