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Thursday, in our post about how the Trump White House has decided to treat all congressional requests with the same level of disrespect, and that they're doing it intentionally, because FUCK YEAH, LET'S DO THE WATERGATE THING, we noted that White House counsel Pat Cipollone had just fired off a letter to House Democratic committee chairmen Elijah Cummings (Oversight), Eliot Engel (Foreign Affairs) and Adam Schiff (Intel), saying HOW ABSOLUTELY DARE YOU ask the White House for information about what Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin say under the covers to each other at night, HOW ABSOLUTELY DARE YOU!

This, despite how the FBI (really! for real!) opened an investigation into whether Trump is a literal actual foreign agent, because he does shit constantly to make it look like he is severely compromised by Vladimir Putin, who may or may not be Trump's KGB handler from way back. Yes, we get that it's an odd situation for Congress to have to demand to know what the president discusses with foreign leaders in private, but it's only odd because the president refuses to disclose his discussions with Putin, even as he crawls under the table with Putin and giggle-whispers with Putin every time they're in the same room. It's even more odd that Trump has literally confiscated his translators' notes of his meetings with Putin. Everything's just kinda strange in Putin's America, we mean Trump's America!


The chairmen have responded:

We are ... concerned by the disingenuous assertions and representations in the letter. In previous Democratic and Republican Administrations, the White House made officials available for interviews and produced to the Congress all manner of internal documents and communications regarding 'the conduct of foreign relations' by the President and White House and National Security Council staff. In fact, the Obama Administration produced records describing the President and Secretary of State's calls with foreign leaders. [...]

President Trump's decision to break with this precedent raises the questions of what he has to hide.

No shit.

So what exactly is the White House's legal rationale here, besides FUCK YOU, LET'S DO THE WATERGATE THING?

Well, they cite some precedent (Bill Clinton! George Washington and the JAY TREATY WITH GREAT BRITAIN!), but what's striking about it is that the letter goes back and forth very bizarrely between assertions about the president's communications with Putin and assertions about his communications with his own national security people, because we guess that's all the same. What, did you think MustacheRide McOld was actually the national security advisor? Fooled you, it's Putin! (That's why it's awesome that the NSA doesn't have to be Senate-confirmed, because can you even imagine those hearings?)

No shit, they really do seem to be claiming executive privilege, over Trump's communications with his real boss, who currently serves as the president of Russia and thus is not on the White House payroll (unless he is and they're hiding that too). If you need a quick refresher on "Is This Executive Privilege?" before you read further, click here. (SPOILER: It is not.)

Here is the key graf:

Even if the exclusive constitutional assignment of foreign relations authority to the Executive did not in itself limit congressional oversight power in this area, it is equally well-established that privilege principles categorically protect the President's diplomatic communications.

Oh wait, they don't seem to be claiming executive privilege, they are claiming it.

The President must be free to engage in discussions with foreign leaders without fear that those communications will be disclosed and used as fodder for partisan political purposes. [...] No foreign leader would engage in private conversations with the President, or the President's senior advisors, if such conversations were subject to public disclosure (or disclosure to committees of Congress).

Yeah, it's better for Trump to just actively hide his conversations with Putin, like he always does, YOU BETCHA.

For the same reasons, the President must be free to consult with his senior advisors -- to ask frank questions, solicit and receive recommendations, weigh options, and debate policy alternatives. Otherwise, those advisors would be less likely to provide the President with candid advice.

OK see that right there is executive privilege, regarding discussions with aides. Funny how it's slipped in to the paragraph about discussions with foreign leaders, so as to conflate the two in the reader's mind! And again, we are talking about Trump hiding his conversations with Vladimir Putin and then wanting to hide more behind executive privilege, so that Congress and the American people don't really know what's happening between those two crazy fucked up kids.

Oh hey look, a prophet prophesied this, back in January:

The committee chairs say they are deciding on their "next steps," and they've been signaling for a while now that they are prepared to fight the Trump administration like hell on this, because hello, it is an extremely open question whether or not the president of the US and A is a literal actual compromised foreign agent, and that is a national security issue, and even if nobody at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue gives a fuck about national security (and they don't), Schiff, Cummings, Engel and the rest of the Democratic House of Representatives do, by God.

Have fun protecting President Illegitimate Russian Asset, Pat Cipollone! You'll be regretting taking this job by summer, if you don't already.

[Cipollone letter]

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Evan Hurst

Evan Hurst is the senior editor of Wonkette, which means he is the boss of you, unless you are Rebecca, who is boss of him. His dog Lula is judging you right now.

Follow him on Twitter RIGHT HERE.

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