The White House said Trump adviser Stephen Miller will not accept the House Oversight Committee’s invitation to appear before the panel on the administration’s immigration policy in the latest White House move to block congressional testimony by key officials.
White House Counsel Pat Cipollone penned a letter to committee Chairman Elijah Cummings, D-Md., on Wednesday, notifying him of the decision. While blocking Miller from testifying, Cipollone did, however, offer cabinet secretaries and other agency officials to appear instead.
“In accordance with long-standing precedent, we respectfully decline the invitation to make Mr. Miller available for testimony before the Committee,” he wrote. “The precedent for members of the White House staff to decline invitations to testify before congressional committees has been consistently adhered to by administrations of both political parties, and is based on clearly established constitutional doctrines.”
He added: “In light of the Committee’s interest, we welcome the opportunity to discuss the Administration’s immigration policy priorities and note that many Executive Branch officials, including cabinet secretaries and other agency leaders, have testified on multiple occasions regarding the Administration’s efforts to secure the border.”
“Testimony by such Executive Branch officials with responsibilities defined by statute would be a reasonable accommodation to the Committee’s questions and legislative goals,” he wrote.
The White House’s decision comes after President Trump vowed this week to fight “all” subpoenas against the administration.
But the Oversight Committee did not subpoena Miller. Cummings invited Miller to testify on why he believes it is “good policy for the Trump administration to take the actions it has. Cummings noted the administration’s unofficial policy of separating immigrant children from their parents at the border, “transferring asylum seekers to sanctuary cities as a form of illegal retribution” against political adversaries, and “firing top Administration officials who refuse orders to violate the law.”
The invitation from Cummings came after President Trump announced that illegal immigrants would be “given” to sanctuary cities, pending official decisions from the Department of Homeland Security. Also, earlier this month, Trump said that the administration has no plans to revive the controversial policy that allowed for family separations at the border.
That announcement came amid a massive shakeup at the Department of Homeland Security. Earlier this month, President Trump announced that DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen would be resigning, and replaced with former CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan, who would serve as acting secretary of the agency.
Since then, McAleenan appointed John Sanders to serve as acting CBP commissioner; former head of the Transportation Security Administration David Pekoske to be his acting deputy secretary at DHS; and Patricia Cogswell as acting TSA administrator. The White House earlier this month announced that James M. Murray would become head of the U.S. Secret Service—replacing Randolph “Tex” Alles.
Meanwhile, the committee is currently leading Trump-focused investigations. Cummings is leading an investigation into the controversial security clearance process for Trump administration officials, and also subpoenaing materials related to the president’s personal finances. Last week, Cummings vowed to subpoena Trump’s accountant.
Fox News’ Kristin Brown contributed to this report.