White House Directs Former Aide Not to Answer Over 200 questions in Congressional Probe

REUTERS/Jason Reed

U.S. President Donald Trump’s White House prevented a former aide from answering more than 200 questions posed by Democrats in Congress who are investigating whether Trump interfered with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, according to a transcript released on Monday.

Former White House lawyer Annie Donaldson repeatedly told the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee that the White House had directed her not to answer questions about various incidents described in Mueller’s 488-page report.

“The White House has directed that I not respond to this question because of the constitutionally-based Executive Branch confidentiality interests that are implicated,” she said – a total of 212 times.

The Democratic-controlled committee called those confidentiality concerns a “sham principle” that has not been recognized as legitimate in court.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Donaldson’s silence meant little light was shed on incidents outlined in Mueller’s 488-page report, including an alleged effort by Trump to have Donaldson’s boss, former White House Counsel Don McGahn, remove Mueller from the investigation.

White House lawyers similarly prevented former communications aide Hope Hicks from answering more than 150 committee questions during an interview last month.

Donaldson, who served as McGahn’s former chief of staff, was present for several episodes described in the Mueller report that House Democrats are looking into as they weigh possible impeachment proceedings against Trump.

The report, released by Mueller in redacted form in mid-April, cites Donaldson as a source of information on Trump’s role in the departures of former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former FBI Director James Comey.

It also recounts Trump’s efforts to persuade former Attorney General Jeff Sessions to redirect the Russia investigation away from Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

Mueller’s investigation found that Russia had interfered in the 2016 election on Trump’s behalf, but concluded that Trump’s campaign had not illegally conspired with the Kremlin. It also outlined several instances where Trump tried to interfere with the investigation, but reached no conclusion as to whether that amounted to obstruction of justice.

Donaldson confirmed the accuracy of some of those incidents. But she declined to explain her handwritten notes that appeared in Mueller’s report, citing instructions from the White House.

Donaldson, who is pregnant, provided written answers under an agreement with congressional investigators because of the difficulty she would have traveling from her home in Alabama. She has agreed to testify in person after Nov. 1 if necessary.

(Reporting by Andy Sullivan, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)

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Sherri
Member

Good! The idiot dems don’t understand “no collusion, conspiracy” and “no obstruction” (that anyone with a pea brain knew they would try and smear Trump with because anyone with a pea brain knew from the get there was no collusion or conspiracy…..except when it comes to DNC, Dems, Steele, etc).

Paul
Member

Just because that woman is pregnant, does that mean she can’t talk and lie in her deposition? C’mon, Righties!

William Conley
Guest
William Conley

Are they seriously still on about this bullshit how long’s it been now four years? Is this seriously the only talking point the Democrats ever have? They realize that when they try to insult things like Trump’s economy or military that undisputable facts hit them directly in the jaw like a knockout punch. Hell even when they still ramble on about these so called Injustices that the Mueller report clears him off still they want to split hairs and saber rattle. I wonder if they understand they are harming their parties chances to get elected as president for certain they… Read more »

Chris
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Chris

All of the world’s people are shaking their heads seeing this nonstop travesty by the democrats, except for a few of their leaders. They are wondering why the democrates are doing what they are doing as they wish their countries leadership is more like Trump!

Morte206
Member

This is in response to JW below: when Super O used Executive Privilege to shut down Congress’s probe/questions regarding Fast and Furious and blocked Congress’s access to AG Holder was that hiding his “criminality” or just his incredibly crappy judgement in the matter? Please explain the difference using tangible arguments not just “Trump is “evil because he breathes” and Obama was the first Black President (thus rendering him inviolate and above criticism). You should also bear in mind that insulting me or others personally is not a logical cohesive argument on which to make your case. Ultimately it serves only… Read more »

Patti Harrison
Member

The demoncrats can have their probe, they can demand questions, but again, doesn’t mean the White House personnel and staff will give you forthcoming answers! Why don’t you instead go to work and actually do real work for your constituents who are actually paying you (their tax dollars) to take care of their needs! You’re handing the Presidency to Donald very easily!!!

Bad
Guest
Bad

I think the house democrats need to get on with serving the legal citizens of America and help President Trump secure the borders to make America stronger and fulfill their oath of office.

James
Member

The Leftists simply will not put an end to their childishness and get over the Trump-Russia hoax which was actually started and fueled by Hillary, Barry and the DNC in an attempt to keep Trump out of the WH. Well past the time when AG Barr SHOULD be calling a whole bunch of Dimwits in to investigate, indict and prosecute them in a Court of Law. Barr should focus on HRC who has obstructed justice and violated the Espionage Act – repeatedly – and should now be well passed her date to begin her time in a Federal prison.

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