October 17, 2019

Trump Cabinet Officials Ignore Harris & Blumenthal Demands to Protect Whistleblowers and Preserve Evidence of Wrongdoing

Every Cabinet-level department refused to answer simple questions related to the preservation of evidence & interference in investigations 

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senators Kamala D. Harris (D-CA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), both former state attorneys general, on Thursday sent a follow-up letter to every Trump cabinet official demanding answers about the cabinet officials’ efforts to protect the rights of whistleblowers, preserve evidence of wrongdoing, and guarantee the integrity of current or future investigations across the executive branch.

The letter comes on the heels of Harris and Blumenthal’s request for answers to the same set of questions last week, which had a deadline of October 16. Every Cabinet official failed to provide the requested information by that deadline.  

“Your timely response to our questions is critical to safeguarding the integrity of investigations into alleged wrongdoing by government officials and to restoring Americans’ faith in their government,” wrote the senators. “We are therefore dismayed that you have yet to respond with the information requested by the deadline of October 16th.”

The senators continued, “The recent allegations of wrongdoing raise serious concerns about the integrity of our government and demand your prompt action. We therefore request your response by Monday, October 21, 2019.”

The October 9th letter, available here, including four simple questions:

  1. The Department of Defense ordered its staff to assist with “identifying, preserving, and collecting documents and other records” related to said investigations. Have you or your departments issued similar directives? If not, why?
  2. What efforts have been made to obtain relevant communications that took place on personal devices? If none, why?
  3. Has the president or anyone at the White House ever made a request or suggestion, whether implied or explicit, that you or other department personnel ignore or fail to comply with any inspector general request, audit, review or investigation?
  4. Has the president or anyone at the White House ever made a request or suggestion, whether implied or explicit, that you or other department personnel interfere with the transmission to Congress of materials related to an inspector general audit, investigation or any other work product?

The full follow-up letter is available here or below:

October 17, 2019

 

The Honorable Sonny Perdue                                     The Honorable Wilbur Ross  

Secretary of Agriculture                                             Secretary of Commerce

U.S. Department of Agriculture                                  U.S. Department of Commerce

 

The Honorable Mark Esper                                        The Honorable Betsy DeVos 

Secretary of Defense                                                   Secretary of Education

U.S. Department of Defense                                       U.S. Department of Education

 

The Honorable Rick Perry                                          The Honorable Alex Azar

Secretary of Energy                                                    Secretary of Health and Human Services

U.S. Department of Energy                                                    U.S. Department of Health and

Human Services         

 

The Acting Secretary                                                  The Honorable Ben Carson   

U.S. Department of Homeland Security                     Secretary of Housing and Urban Development

                                                                                    U.S. Department of Housing and

                                                                                    Urban Development

 

The Honorable David Bernhardt                                The Honorable Eugene Scalia

Secretary of Interior                                                    Secretary of Labor

U.S. Department of Interior                                        U.S. Department of Labor

 

The Honorable Mike Pompeo                                     The Honorable Elaine Chao

Secretary of State                                                       Secretary of Transportation

U.S. Department of State                                            U.S. Department of Transportation

 

The Honorable Steven Mnuchin                                 The Honorable Robert Wilkie

Secretary of the Treasury                                            Secretary of Veterans Affairs

U.S. Department of the Treasury                                U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

 

The Honorable William Barr                                      The Honorable Joseph Maguire

Attorney General                                                        Acting Director of National Intelligence

U.S. Department of Justice                                                     Office of the Director of National

                                                                                                Intelligence

 

The Honorable Gina Haspel                                       The Honorable Mick Mulvaney

Director                                                                       Director

Central Intelligence Agency                                       Office of Management and Budget

 

The Honorable Andrew Wheeler                                The Honorable Robert Lighthizer

Administrator                                                              U.S. Trade Representative

Environmental Protection Agency

 

Mr. Chris Pilkerton

Acting Administrator

U.S. Small Business Administration

Dear Members of the Cabinet:

Last week, we wrote to you regarding multiple, credible allegations of wrongdoing on the part of administration officials, including the President of the United States. It is critical to the proper functioning of our government that these allegations be fully investigated and that all responsible parties be held accountable.

As former attorneys general and current members of the United States Senate, we asked you to answer questions about your efforts to protect whistleblowers and safeguard the independence of inspector general investigations. Your timely response to our questions is critical to safeguarding the integrity of investigations into alleged wrongdoing by government officials and to restoring Americans’ faith in their government.  We are therefore dismayed that you have yet to respond with the information requested by the deadline of October 16th.

Again, we urge you to take the following immediate steps to ensure your departments’ full compliance with the current or future investigations conducted by Congressional oversight committees and inspectors general:

  1. Order all department personnel to identify, preserve and collect records related to on-going investigations.  This must include the recovery and preservation of all relevant communications on personal devices by government officials. 
  2. Provide all information and documents within your respective department in relation to any operation or investigation over which Congress or the respective inspector general has responsibility, unless explicitly prohibited by law.
  3. Report any effort within your department or the White House to interfere with, intimidate, or otherwise obstruct an investigation by the relevant inspector general or Congress.

Additionally, we again ask that you answer the following questions:

  1. The Department of Defense ordered its staff to assist with “identifying, preserving, and collecting documents and other records” related to said investigations. Have you or your departments issued similar directives? If not, why?
  2. What efforts have been made to obtain relevant communications that took place on personal devices? If none, why?
  3. Has the president or anyone at the White House ever made a request or suggestion, whether implied or explicit, that you or other department personnel ignore or fail to comply with any inspector general request, audit, review or investigation?
  4. Has the president or anyone at the White House ever made a request or suggestion, whether implied or explicit, that you or other department personnel interfere with the transmission to Congress of materials related to an inspector general audit, investigation or any other work product?

The recent allegations of wrongdoing raise serious concerns about the integrity of our government and demand your prompt action. We therefore request your response by Monday, October 21, 2019.

Sincerely,

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