The administration’s refusals to provide information to Congress and the public reaches far beyond what occurred over the last week.
But the lack of transparency has been systemic.
During the impeachment hearings and in further congressional investigations, members of the administration have refused to testify before Congress, even under subpoena. Agencies including the Office of Management and Budget, the Defense Department, the State Department and the White House turned over none of the documents requested by the House during the impeachment process. And public records of what they discussed are scant.
The President’s habit of noncompliance is, in some ways, an effective strategy. Special counsel Robert Mueller revealed in congressional testimony last year that it was the reason why he wasn’t subpoenaed during the Russia investigation.
Requests for Secret Service protection costs
Mnuchin agreed to requirements that the agency disclose the President’s and his adult children’s travel, but Mnuchin has reportedly pushed back against Democrats’ stipulation that such disclosures begin by 120 days after the bill’s passage, as he wants them to start next year.
People monitoring Mnuchin’s proposal told the Post that his insistence on reporting starting in 2021 probably will limit Democratic support for the proposal.
Requests for Ukraine documents
The emails, which are part of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by the Times, are between Robert Blair, an assistant to Trump and senior adviser to acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, and Mike Duffey, a Trump political appointee who’s the budget official responsible for overseeing national security money.
The withholding of the emails highlights how extensively the administration has refused to disclose to the public or to Congress information about Ukraine that led to the President’s impeachment, and the standoff over public records could result in a judge’s intervention.
Dionne Hardy, the Office of Management and Budget’s Freedom of Information Act officer, said the disclosure of the emails “would inhibit the frank and candid exchange of views that is necessary for effective government decision-making.”
An undisclosed Oval Office meeting
The public only learned about the Monday meeting between the two leaders after a statement and photos were released by Saudi Arabia — an atypical circumstance when the President’s meetings with world leaders are disclosed in the President’s public schedule.
Trump later tweeted about the meeting.
Explaining Soleimani’s ‘imminent threat’
Lawmakers were left unsatisfied in the wake of a Trump administration briefing on the justification for launching a strike on an Iraqi airport that killed top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani last week.
But the Trump administration’s shifting answers on the issue have caused some lawmakers to challenge the White House on its decision.
Republican Sen. Mike Lee said briefers left just over an hour after they’d begun, “while they’re in the process of telling us that we need to be good little boys and girls and run along and not debate this in public.”
Multiple lawmakers also said they saw no specific intelligence that pointed to an imminent threat from Soleimani that justified the strike.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo repeated the claim on Friday, saying US intelligence indicated that a threat was imminent, with the caveat that the timing of the attacks was unclear. He also asserted that lawmakers were informed about the embassies threat during the classified briefing.
But lawmakers in the briefing are beginning to push back on Pompeo’s characterization.
The top Democrat in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Menendez, said Friday that he did not get answers to his requests for specific information on the intelligence leading the administration to believe that Soleimani posed an imminent threat that needed to be eliminated in order to be resolved.
“I just heard Secretary Pompeo’s remarks and I can tell you he wasn’t at the same briefing that I was in,” Menendez told MSNBC. “I didn’t get the answer to any of (my) questions. So, I don’t know what the Secretary is talking about.”
CNN’s Ryan Browne, Paul LeBlanc, Kevin Liptak, Veronica Stracqualursi, Katelyn Polantz Oliver Darcy and Caroline Kelly contributed to this report.