White House rejects House Oversight Committee request to interview former deputy counsel
House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings, according to CNN, has requested interviews with two Trump-associated attorneys: former White House Deputy Counsel Stefan Passantino and President Trump’s personal attorney Sheri Dillon. Cummings is alleging that Passantino and Dillon “may have provided false information” when they were questioned by federal ethics officials about hush money payments to adult film star Stephanie Clifford, a.k.a. Stormy Daniels—and the Maryland congressman’s request has been denied by White House Counsel Pat Cipollone.
In a letter to Cummings, Cipollone wrote, “In response to your request, given longstanding law and practice, we are not inclined to make the former deputy counsel to the president available for a transcribed interview inquiring into his conversations and advice he provided while serving as deputy counsel to the president.”
Since leaving the White House, Passantino has been working for the Washington, D.C. law firm Michael Best & Friedrich LLP.
This wasn’t the first time there has been tension between Cummings and the Trump White House. Cummings is also investigating security clearances for Trump’s advisers, including a report that Trump intervened in order to get a clearance for his son-in-law Jared Kushner. In late February, the New York Times reported that when John F. Kelly was serving as White House chief of staff, Trump ordered him to grant Kushner a clearance despite concerns from intelligence officials.
Cummings, earlier this month, threatened to issue a subpoena if the White House didn’t comply with his request for information on security clearances.
CNN has also reported that a security clearance was granted to President Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, despite the objections of Kelly and former White House Counsel Don McGahn.