Donald Trump’s White House won’t respond to inquiries from a government watchdog, House Democratic lawmakers have alleged, according to a report published in Politico.
It is routine for administrations to respond to requests from the government’s top watchdog, the Government Accountability Office, which usually asks for information about the presidential itinerary, vacancies in governmental departments as well as security measures surrounding top officials in the White House. It also keeps tabs on the funds being deployed by the administration for various executive travels.
But despite the GAO writing to the Trump administration repeatedly asking for information about similar matters, they have received absolutely no response, essentially meaning that the White House might be stonewalling the oversight agency — a rare occurrence by any standard.
GAO general counsel Thomas Armstrong wrote a letter to White House counsel Don McGahn earlier this month, pointing out “attorneys from your office and the National Security Council will not respond to inquiries or otherwise engage with GAO staff during the course of our reviews,” saying it represents a clear “departure from past practice.”
House Democratic lawmakers led by Elijah Cummings have asked House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy to look into the matter and hold a hearing as to “why the Trump Administration has so severely reversed course to deny GAO access to information it has obtained for years.”
The House lawmakers said it was a “dramatic decision” by the Donald Trump administration not to respond to the government’s watchdog — hampering Congress from carrying out its constitutional duty, which entails keeping oversight on the White House.
This is not the first time that Donald Trump, either personally or through the practice of his staff, has deviated from what was considered the norm in earlier presidential administrations. As reported by the Inquisitr earlier today, Trump made the fourth executive clemency of his presidential tenure by pardoning Dinesh D’Souza — something none of the past three presidents had done within the first two years of assuming office.
Moreover, as the Washington Post reported, the GOA had attempted to examine last year if the Trump administration had violated “the law by using government resources to promote the Republican replacement plan” for Obamacare but that never amounted to anything.
Sarah Binder, a congressional expert at George Washington University, says that the GOA has an important role to play in America’s constitutional democracy, and the White House cannot just stonewall it to avoid answering the questions.
“GAO is an extraordinarily valuable tool for provoking oversight — it gives the minority a key tool. If taxpayer dollars are being used to sabotage the law, that’s a constitutional problem.”
“GAO is an arm of Congress, but it’s fiercely independent and filled with impressive expertise,” congressional scholar Norm Ornstein adds.