After the public learned about Donald Trump's scheme to withhold approved military aid to a vulnerable ally, Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) asked the Government Accountability Office -- a non-partisan watchdog agency that conducts audits and investigations for Congress -- to determine whether the administration had broken the law. Last week, the GAO determined that president's scheme was, in fact, illegal.
And while that's important for any number of reasons -- not the least of which is the damage this has done to Republican talking points -- we're still learning more about the investigation itself. CNN had this report early this morning:
The White House refused to provide documents to a non-partisan congressional watchdog investigating President Donald Trump's decision to withhold US security aid to Ukraine, according to documents released by Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland on Thursday.Included in the release is a December 20 letter from the White House responding to an inquiry from the Government Accountability Office by citing a previous legal memo from the Office of Management and Budget defending the military aid freeze.
When the GAO investigators sought "factual information and legal views" about why the White House withheld the Ukraine aid, presidential aide Brian Miller said there would be no such cooperation.
"The White House does not plan to respond separately to your letters," he wrote.
On Twitter, Van Hollen characterized this as further evidence of a "cover-up," adding, "As seen in these documents, OMB provided incomplete responses and the White House flat out refused."
That's hardly an unreasonable argument. Asked for routine information about its own decisions, it now appears Team Trump refused to cooperate with multiple investigations, including both the congressional and the GAO probes.
Which is curious given the president's position that he and his team did literally nothing wrong, and that the entire controversy is a manufactured "hoax" based on nothing. If that were true, wouldn't Trump and his aides be eager to prove their innocence? Doesn't it stand to reason that they'd cooperate fully, offering extensive evidence that discredited their opponents' accusations?
Or is it more likely that the White House withheld information because officials know the relevant documents and materials would be incriminating?