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White House Fights Republican Subpoena of Political Director

Tuesday, 15 Jul 2014 06:59 AM

The White House is resisting efforts by congressional Republicans to force a top political adviser to President Barack Obama to testify before a U.S. House panel.

W. Neil Eggleston, the White House counsel, sent a letter today to Republican Darrell Issa of California, chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, asking him to lift a subpoena for the testimony of David Simas, director of the White House Office of Political Strategy & Outreach.

“The committee’s efforts to compel Mr. Simas’s testimony threats longstanding interest of the Executive Branch in preserving the president’s independence and autonomy and his ability to obtain candid advice and counsel,” wrote Eggleston.

Issa plans a hearing on July 16 on whether the White House political office is an illegal use of taxpayer dollars. Simas is still expected to appear, according to Issa spokeswoman, Becca Glover Watkins.

In response to Issa’s request, Eggleston plans to brief the California Republican tomorrow on how the Office of Political Strategy is complying with laws that restrict the political activity of federal employees.

“Chairman Issa has allowed that if the White House provided the requested information to the committee, he would reconsider, but at present Mr. Simas is still expected to appear at Wednesday’s hearing,” said Watkins.

Presidents from both parties have kept political offices in the White House and have long resisted congressional efforts to subpoena their staff. They’ve often been defended by members of their own party on Capitol Hill.

“I don’t think there is any doubt that the president’s top advisers are covered under executive privilege,” House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, who was then minority leader, told reporters in 2007 when Republican President George W. Bush was in the White House.

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