White House rejects cooperating in Congress 'show trial'

A showdown is looming between President Donald Trump and Jerry Nadler, the Democratic Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee whose efforts to probe the president were rejected by a White House insider as a "show trial" (AFP Photo/Jim WATSON)

Washington (AFP) - The White House on Wednesday branded Democrat-led congressional efforts to probe alleged wrongdoing by President Donald Trump a "show trial" and said it would refuse demands to cooperate.

A letter sent by White House counsel Pat Cipollone rejected demands by Jerry Nadler, head of the House of Representatives judiciary committee, for extensive documentation and testimony.

Cipollone wrote that the committee does not have the right "to harass political opponents" or conduct an "unauthorized ‘do-over’" of the recently completed probe into Trump led by special counsel Robert Mueller.

A senior White House official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, went further, saying that Nadler's probes amount to "nothing short of presidential harassment" and "some kind of show trial."

The White House stressed that much of the ground that Nadler's committee aims to cover has already been the subject of Mueller's two-year investigation into alleged links between Trump's election campaign and Russia.

Mueller concluded that there was not evidence to prove a conspiracy, even if Trump's team did have numerous contacts with Russians during a Moscow-organized campaign to try and disrupt the 2016 election.

Mueller left open whether the president had attempted to obstruct justice, but Trump's attorney general, William Barr, ruled later that there was no obstruction.

That outcome led Trump and his allies to declare he was fully exonerated, while opponents say he is badly tainted and should be investigated further.

The White House refusal to respond to the judiciary committee's demand for evidence sets up a constitutional clash that could end up in the courts.

Nadler has accused Trump of wanting "to make himself king."

But the White House official insisted the reverse is true.

"The president is not acting in imperial fashion. It seems to me that Congress, particularly House Democrats … are acting imperiously by setting out demands that they know they have no right to," he said.

"This investigation that Chairman Nadler thinks he's somehow going to replicate has been done and done thoroughly," the White House official said. "The trouble is that the chairman doesn't like the results."