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Trump blasts Democrats for probes, says White House is 'fighting all the subpoenas'

Trump called himself the "most transparent president ever" amid blocking officials from appearing before Congress and suing to keep financial documents secret.
Image: U.S. President Trump departs for travel to Georgia from the White House in Washington
President Trump talks to reporters at the White House on April 24, 2019.Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

President Donald Trump on Wednesday excoriated Democrats for probing his finances and his administration and declared, "We're fighting all the subpoenas."

"The subpoenas are ridiculous. I have been the most transparent president and administration in the history of our country by far," Trump said, referring to recent moves by House Democrats. Trump spoke to reporters the South Lawn of the White House before departing for an event on the opioid crisis.

The Democratic chairs of powerful congressional oversight committees have ramped up their investigations into Trump's businesses and his administration in the wake of the release of a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller's report. They've issued subpoenas for the president's finances, information about White House security clearances and the 2020 census and for the full, unredacted Mueller report. Earlier in April, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal formally requested Trump's tax returns from the Internal Revenue Service, setting up what's likely to be a prolonged battle with Trump's administration over documents the president has refused to release.

"I say it's enough," Trump told reporters. "Get back to infrastructure, get to back to cutting taxes, get back to lowering prescription drug prices."

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Trump on Wednesday also continued to claim vindication, reiterating that there was no collusion between his campaign and Russia. He slammed Mueller's nearly two-year investigation as one conducted by "18 angry Democrats," but still called it the "most thorough investigation in the history of our country."

He also said he assumed that Mueller got his taxes in the course of his investigation, suggesting there was no need for Democrats to obtain those documents.

Peter Carr, a spokesman for the special counsel's office declined to comment on whether Mueller obtained Trump’s returns.

Mueller's report, which lays out Russia's attempts to influence the 2016 election, notes "that the campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts." However, Mueller said in the report that he did not find a provable criminal conspiracy.

Muller did not come to a conclusion on the issue of whether Trump obstructed justice over the course of his investigation. Attorney General William Barr, in a letter to Congress sent before the redacted report was made public, said that he had decided that Trump did not obstruct the probe.

Mueller's report, however, revealed that he weighed charging Trump with obstruction, but didn't in part because "we recognized that a federal criminal accusation against a sitting President would place burdens on the President's capacity to govern and potentially preempt constitutional process for addressing presidential misconduct."

He added, "The president's efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the president declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests."

Impeachment chatter has gained steam among Democrats since the report was made public on April 18, with at least four 2020 hopefuls urging the House to begin proceedings based on the conduct Mueller described. But House Democratic leaders on Monday held a conference call with members in which they promised aggressive and extensive investigations into Trump — but would not commit to bringing up impeachment proceedings.

"We don't have to go to articles of impeachment to obtain the facts, the presentation of facts," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, according to a leadership aide on the call.

The day after the redacted report was released, House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., subpoenaed the Justice Department for the full, unredacted version as well as the underlying evidence. In a statement, Nadler said that the Justice Department must comply by May 1. Department of Justice Spokesperson Kerri Kupec called the subpoena "premature and unnecessary" in a statement, given Barr's offer to allow lawmakers the chance to review a less redacted version of the report in a “secure reading room.”

Nadler also issued a subpoena Trump's former White House counsel Don McGahn for testimony and documents as part the panel's investigation into possible obstruction of justice by the president and others. The report said, for example, that Trump ordered McGahn to tell Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein that "Mueller has to go."

The administration is also fighting subpoenas and formal requests for administration officials to testify into several ongoing probes related to oversight of the administration's policies.

Lawyers for Trump and the Trump Organization are suing Rep. Elijah Cummings, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, to block a subpoena for years of financial records from several Trump entities.

Additionally, the Justice Department told Cummings Wednesday that it would not comply with a committee subpoena ordering John Gore, an official in its civil rights division, to testify about the 2020 census without a DOJ attorney present. Gore is a key figure in an effort by Democrats to determine Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross' rationale for adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

Cummings called the move "a massive, unprecedented, and growing pattern of obstruction" by Trump's administration, and said in a statement that the deposition of Gore slated for Thursday before his committee would go on as scheduled.

House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and House Financial Services Chairwoman Maxine Waters, D-Calif., jointly issued subpoenas earlier this month to Deutsche Bank and other financial institutions for information on Trump’s finances.

They're pursuing the information as part of their investigation into "allegations of potential foreign influence on the U.S. political process," adding that the committees issued a “friendly subpoena” to Deutsche Bank, which has longstanding ties with the president. The bank said in a statement that it is cooperating with the committees.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, meanwhile, has missed two deadlines — April 10 and 23 — to hand over Trump's tax returns. Mnuchin pushed the deadline to May 6 after he said that he was consulting with the Department of Justice.