Offices within the Trump administration have refused to meet with Government Accountability Office staff on relevant investigations, and a cadre of congressmen want to know why.
A group of 18 Democrats on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee sent a letter to the committee chairman, Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., May 29, 2018, raising concerns over the White House’s refusal to meet with GAO investigators and calling for a hearing on the matter.
On May 9, 2018, the GAO General Counsel Thomas Armstrong sent a letter to White House Counsel Donald McGahn expressing concern that the National Security Council and McGhan’s offices repeatedly refused to engage with GAO staff over the course of their investigations.
“Over the past year, GAO has requested information and meetings when preparing reports on topics clearly involving White House interests and expertise. These reports concern such diverse topics as the role of the NSC in the coordination of conflict prevention, mitigation and stabilization efforts abroad; Inspector General vacancies; and the cost of presidential travel and security related measures,” Armstrong wrote.
“In response to our requests, White House Counsel and NSC staff have either refused to have any discussion with GAO staff or not responded at all, illustrating the recent change in policy.”
GAO does not frequently need to interact with such White House offices, and typically does so only when matters of investigation at federal agencies involve the offices.
Armstrong expressed concern over the implications of such a policy change and requested that McGhan respond by May 25, 2018. That response did not occur, according to the Democrat’s letter.
“In order to determine why the Trump Administration has so severely reversed course to deny GAO access to information it has obtained for years, we request that you invite Comptroller General Gene Dorado, GAO General Counsel Thomas Armstrong and White House Counsel Donald McGhan to testify before the Committee,” the congressmen wrote.
According to the Democrats’ letter, this is not the first time GAO has had issues with responsiveness from the Trump administration, as a September 2017 report on the presidential transition process noted that the office of Vice President Mike Pence, who was chairman of the Trump-Pence Transition Team, did not respond to requests to discuss work done on the transition.
Gowdy’s office had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication.