White House stonewalling government watchdog, agency says:

White House stonewalling government watchdog, agency says:

The White House is not cooperating with requests from the government’s chief watchdog, House Democratic lawmakers said, calling for a hearing to look at the administration’s “dramatic decision” to ignore inquiries from the oversight agency.

Government Accountability Office general counsel Thomas Armstrong said in a letter earlier this month to White House counsel Don McGahn that he understood that “attorneys from your office and the National Security Council will not respond to inquiries or otherwise engage with GAO staff during the course of our reviews.”

Armstrong asked for a response from McGahn by May 25 — a request that was not met, according to a separate letter dated Tuesday from Democrats on the House Oversight Committee.

The lawmakers, led by ranking member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), asked committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) to hold a hearing to shed light on “why the Trump Administration has so severely reversed course to deny GAO access to information it has obtained for years.” The lawmakers made both letters public this week.

Armstrong wrote in his letter to McGahn that the White House’s refusal to comply with the watchdog’s requests “represents a clear departure from past practice.”

He said the GAO has sought information on the cost of presidential travel and security measures, vacancies in the office of the inspector general and the role of the NSC in conflict-prevention efforts abroad. He said staff “have either refused to have any discussion … or not responded at all.”

Armstrong said he was “concerned” that the White House’s “new policy” will hinder the agency from carrying out its work, which is aiding Congress in carrying out its “constitutional oversight.”

Gowdy has not yet responded to the request for a hearing on the oversight issues. His office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

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