White House adviser David Simas will not comply with House Oversight Committee Chair Darrell Issa’s (R-California) subpoena to testify before the committee on Wednesday, White House counsel Neil Eggleston wrote in a letter to Issa late Tuesday.
The White House had urged Issa to drop his subpoena, offering to brief him on the role of the administration’s political affairs office, of which Simas is the director. Issa has been conducting an investigation into the office for what he claims are possible violations of the Hatch Act, related to whether the administration is using taxpayer dollars for political purposes.
Issa refused to lift the subpoena on Tuesday, despite a lengthy briefing Tuesday from White House staff that Issa did not attend. Issa said later in a statement it would be important to get on-the-record answers from Simas at the hearing.
Eggleston sent back a letter informing him Simas was “immune” from appearing before the Oversight Committee. Eggleston said the subpoena would “threaten the longstanding interests of the Executive Branch in preserving the president’s independence and autonomy.” Eggleston also wrote to Issa that it was “regrettable” he had chosen ton continue to pursue the subpoena instead of working privately with the White House to resolve his questions about oversight.
The White House has rejected Issa’s speculation and insists the political affairs office runs in line with the law, while pointing out Issa’s four letters to the White House on this issue haven’t contained a single specific allegation of wrongdoing. Democratic officials have also cited longstanding precedent of administrations of both parties typically shielding senior White House officials from testifying before Congress.
The White House says the office’s purpose is to “provide the president with information about the current political environment and political issues nationwide.”
View the letter from the White House to Issa below:
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