Washington (CNN)-On Tuesday President Donald Trump suggested his administration won’t cooperate with House Democrats’ recent request for information and documents from more than 80 groups, organizations and individuals, as part of their investigation into Trump’s campaign, businesses, post-election transition and administration.
In doing so, Trump tried to draw a comparison to former President Barack Obama by claiming he didn’t comply with congressional inquiries either.
“President Obama, from what they tell me, was under a similar kind of a thing,” said Trump. “They didn’t give one letter.
They didn’t do anything. They didn’t give one letter of the requests. Many requests were made. They didn’t give a letter.
“Facts First: Though Trump is vague about what exactly he’s referring to, it’s untrue to say that the Obama administration refused to comply with congressional requests for information. There were a handful of occasions where the Obama administration initially rebuffed extensive congressional document requests, but ultimately complied, either voluntarily or under court order.
During the Fast and Furious botched weapons sting investigation, Republicans on the House Oversight Committee in 2012 recommended that then-Attorney General Eric Holder be cited for contempt of Congress for failing to turn over requested documents. They made the recommendation after Obama asserted executive privilege over some documents sought by the committee.
But two years later, under court order, the Obama Justice Department did turn over nearly 65,000 pages of Fast and Furious-related documents.
And in 2016, the Justice Department released additional documents pertaining to Fast and Furious, as ordered by a federal judge.
In addition, Obama administration officials provided requested documents during congressional inquiries into the Benghazi attack that left four Americans dead, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens. However, when the committee asked the President to answer questions about the attack in Libya, his administration rebuffed the request.
During Obama’s first term, his administration said it would not comply with requests to turn over internal White House communications related to the solar company Solyndra, which received a $535 million loan guarantee from the federal government and then went bankrupt. A year later, the administration turned over 432 pages of email and other documents.
On Tuesday, former senior Obama administration officials pushed back on Trump’s comments, insisting there was extensive cooperation during past investigations.”If there was no cooperation, how was there material for seven Benghazi investigations?”
one official said, noting the release of Benghazi documents triggered Clinton email server stories.
A separate official, former deputy press secretary Eric Schultz tweeted, “From 2011 – 2016 the Obama White House produced hundreds of thousands of documents to Congress on Solyndra, Benghazi, Fast and Furious, CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards rule, Deep Water Horizon spill, ACA (Affordable Care Act), ACA website, Clean Water Rule, and Ft Hood shooting.
“Andy Wright, a former associate counsel to President Barack Obama in the White House Counsel’s Office and a former staff director and counsel to the House Oversight Committee, flatly denied that the Obama administration did not respond to congressional oversight inquiries.”He is prone to being sort of all or nothing,” Wright said of Trump. But “compartmentalization is part of the job.
“”In order to be able to handle oversight in a good faith manner you’ve got to be honest and you’ve got to be able to compartmentalize on the different requests,” he continued, later adding that though he doesn’t think this is Trump’s final position, “this is the initial position.”