A senior White House attorney has told two senior Republicans that the oversight motions they filed during the last Congress would need to be reissued once the GOP takes control of the House of Representatives next week.
The letter to Reps. Jim Jordan and James Comer, future chairs of the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees, offers a first glimpse of how the White House plans to deal with a litany of Republican investigations that Biden’s team expects to see as politically motivated .
The White House has been working over the past few months to assemble a team of attorneys and other advisers to handle an expected onslaught of oversight requests. Thursday’s letter is the first hint of the team’s approach – one that promises collaboration but still pushes back on what the White House sees as overstepping.
Jordan and Comer had begun demanding records from the Biden administration shortly after it became clear in November that Republicans would win enough seats in the House of Representatives to rob Democrats of the House majority. They set deadlines in December.
But in his letter, the President’s special counsel, Richard Sauber, writes that the two Republicans are not yet eligible to file their motions — and that they would have to resubmit their motions once the new Congress begins next week.
“Congress has not delegated these powers to individual members of Congress who are not committee chairs, and the House has not done so under its current Rules of Procedure,” wrote Sauber, one of the senior White House Oversight Attorneys.
“Should the Committee make similar or different inquiries at the 118th Congress, we will consider and respond in good faith, consistent with the needs and commitments of both branches. We anticipate that the incoming Congress will exercise its oversight responsibilities in the same spirit of good faith,” wrote Sauber.
Politico initially reported on the letters from the White House attorney.
House Republicans have vowed to investigate a plethora of issues surrounding the Biden administration, including the 2021 withdrawal from Afghanistan, Hunter Biden’s business commitments and the federal government’s response to school board meetings.
Jordan and Comer have threatened subpoenas to obtain documents and information from the administration. The White House said Biden will continue to focus on other priorities while Republicans begin their investigation.
House Judiciary Republicans responded to those in the White House letter on Twitteraccused the administration of “playing games,” adding, “It shows how afraid you are of important congressional oversight, especially one where your administration has targeted parents who protest at local school board meetings.”
“That’s why it’s so important that we hit the ground running on January 3,” they added. “Get ready.”
In a statement, Comer said, “President Biden has promised to have the most transparent administration in history, but the Biden White House is trying at every turn to obstruct congressional oversight and hide information from the American people.”
White House officials believe that Republicans will inevitably go too far in their oversight requests and that their investigative overreach will backfire with the American public. In the meantime, they are ready to hit back with force, believing many proposed investigations are based on conspiracy theories and politically motivated charges.
“As for the past two years, we intend to work in good faith to provide adequate information to Congress, but Americans have made it clear that they expect their leaders in Washington to stick to their top priorities like the work together to reduce costs. That’s what the president will focus on, and we hope House Republicans will join him,” Ian Sams, a spokesman for the White House Office, said in a statement.
“Unfortunately, political stunts like minority subpoena threats suggest House Republicans may be spending more time contemplating booking them on ‘Hannity’ than preparing to work together to help the American people.” , Sams said, referring to the Fox News program.