Trump urges aides to stonewall subpoenas

Pres. Trump said he's against current and former White House aides testifying, claiming Congress already has the information it's asking for.
3:00 | 04/24/19

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Transcript for Trump urges aides to stonewall subpoenas
Everybody welcome to the briefing room on Devon White washing the great to have you with us on this Wednesday a lot to go over. Today as the White House and gears up to push back against congress they're back next week. And of course a lot of other headlines we're following out of the White House today and for that we have a whole team here joining us Jordan Phelps or White House reporter. Terror upon their air White House correspondent is here a lot to get into let's start with this new well. We're just saying terrorists not exactly a new strategy but it certainly is coming into focus as approach for the White House to basically Stonewall. All of congress' requests now subpoena threats they're denying them just in the past. 24 hours regain some overt. Pushed back from the White House this is something that you've seen as being a long time coming. Well it when I spoke to he's team back in December right after the Democrats won the majority in the house they were saying that this strategy is to Stonewall they kept. We're calling and that I Eric Holder as attorney general was held in contempt of congress. They thought that I think they thought that that document production from the Clinton storing his impeachment hearings with very slow and they were sort of looking to cues from the past as to how they could slow roll. This entire thing they didn't explicitly state any they were going some small things and at this past week and I spoke said the president's lawyer Rudy Giuliani that's me. We like every subpoena this is not a legal battle as the political battle is with congress there but Democrats and Republicans and that is it and that is how we're going to frame it now we look into the legal battle. Because they can end up in the courts but right now they airplane that's a car and this that there's an idea which I read about this morning about his running out the clock which is what they sanctity suggesting earlier on and it's possible that what the campaigns pick up into high gear they may not really be any appetite. For this kind of. I bet fast and furious case and Eric Holder that you're talking about from point fourteen that was litigated into the courts. For three and a half the year that they did run out the court and by the time the court actually won't against the administration and said they had to turn over the documents. It's basically a moot point. At all left off authorities are looking to metropolitan Portland Jordan bring you into this do what is congress actually want to remind us. What they're looking for a more of these subpoenas are all about. There's a slew of things congress looking into but the biggest fight right now is they want to see Don making and Hugh. It's a former White House counsel and it was very much the star of the Muller reports he was an air you know a number of times in kind of led the trail firm dollars investigators. With regard to prison they want to see him investing if they want to see him testifying on Capitol Hill president trump says he is going. To fight fat and he told us today DeVon desist terror was saying that he sees all of this is purely political that he sees the Democrats just coming after him for 22 when he purpose says. And he does not want to give them any winds here so there. Yang and terror as we hear from Democrats this week in the wake of similar reports are still digesting and they are also clarified their strategy saying impeachment. For now leases off the table they just want to keep investigating. They want to hear from all the players in the Muller reports on camera. In the hot seat on TV to keep the spotlight on what they perceive as being the president's misbehavior. The ice they're getting a sense that that American public is not sold on this quite yet. You know we talked to some of our reporters on the ground. This weekend with the candidates court exciting themselves do I want to come out war against impeachment this week when a candidate. It seems able that we spoke to other and a reporter is it that that the voters weren't pressuring that. You make a decision not many questions about Mueller not a lot of questions about the Russian investigation so. Clearly Democrats have figured out that they need to build the political will for impeachment this report was not enough to. So let's get into now Livermore. Deeper how subpoenas actually work what powered this congress to the Democrats actually have. To compel testimony from somebody like Don began to get the president's tax returns. He can they do this joining us now. For a little bit more on those questions and some analysis legal analysis is Margaret Taylor. I thought the Brookings Institution also senior editor who author blogger former I chief counsel of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Barbara thanks so much for coming great to see you. Thank you for having me so break it down for ST the Democrats had any real power here when it comes to issuing the subpoenas to the White House. So they do. And it's not specifically outlined in the constitution. But the Supreme Court has over and over recognized. That broad power of congress to investigate. To obtain testimony and documents. And so that's really what what we're we're talking about here now us congressional subpoena. Is one of the tools that congress uses to effectuate. That power mad oversight and investigative power. These subpoenas are typical we issued by app congressional committee either by a vote or by the chairman of the committee issuing a subpoena. I'm an inning and they are real thing and they're they're an embodiment of congress'. On power to investigate. Now actually dinner of Jimmer how do they actually enforce them do that can make actually issue fines can they hold. Say down again if he refuses to come and he could could congress throw him in jail. So that. To clean the news a few answers so that. I mean there is in theory there's a possibility that the congress can issues and include a content. Citation. And then the executive branch could actually bring a suit against the person now. Practically speaking and he the president needs to bridge aren't typically going to do that if they oppose. The person complying with the subpoena. On there is called the congress is inherent. Contends power which basically to get right down to it would mean sending out the capitol police to. Tim basically get someone and put an end. Holding space on the young Capitol Hill. That hasn't been used for decades and decades and decades and for obvious reasons is anywhere I lay people like there. Now as we're we're we're a little bit shocked by what you just said so we could in theory. See the capitol police go hunt down somebody like John McGann and and it would be quite the provocative mood. Moved to say Italy's that they could go go get him and and bring him in detain him on the hill. That in theory yes and there was a Herbert Hoover administration official that was actually held in the Willard. Hotel on decades and decades ago pursuant to that authority now that's a really. Uncommon the most skull in some way for the congress to a factually it subpoena power and its contempt citation. Is to instigate a a on a civil enforcement action in court. On the problem winning this mechanism is that it can often take a very very long time for a court to actually render a decision and on off on those issues to that is that the normal course now. I want to just mention one other thing which is that congress can use its other constitutional powers. To put pressure on the president executive branch to comply with subpoenas so for example the congress has the power of the purse. It could in theory you refuse to for example find something I was a high priority. For the president or the administration as a way to force that compliance with the subpoena. Yeah I mean terror that's interest and because that we've seen that congress tried this before this White House delayed confirmation hearings are certain nominees. As murderers and deny funding for certain parties but this president does seem particularly bothered when he really. Just passionately about say. That's really seemed pet legislation is really has priority I know he's meeting with Nancy Pelosi next week about infrastructure Bert. What are they expecting to get done in the next year's and they're just having his political fights. The Democrats and Republicans have to accept that they might have anything to show for quite funny and that's innovation their thinking in their calculus right now. And marks so what's your body mind here on this flurry of subpoenas that we have seen already that we expect to seen. And a lot of these trump officials who apparently now are all going to be refusing the subpoenas. Will be able to run out the clock. I think it Berry is a substantial risk that the White House and president trump will be able to run out the clock. However what than usual here is the president in the White House taking some very definitive view of no cooperation. That unusual in our history. And that type of bomb really isn't a step farming response across the board could have the effect of actually speeding opt. Some of these court proceedings because. Typically there's a back and forth and could phase accommodation process that would go lines. But if the White House isn't participating in that then a judge might be more willing to go ahead and get to the merits of a case and decide it. Really interest in stock Barbara Taylor at the Brookings Institution thank you so much Barbara thanks for coming in. Thank you so much for having me and some other interest in news out of the White House that you've been following our terror involves the president and his team. Sort of pushing back in another way against members is on national security team you're learning that Homeland Security secretary cure soon Nielsen who. We just resigned she was pushed out of the White House. I tried to raise the issue of Russian meddling in our politics and how the same sorts of things you some similar report in the White House the president himself. It was very reluctant to two to listen to this. Right reporting great reporting we have from Catherine fathers I showed that the president was distant and in this goes back to the issue. That presidents cup has had this entire time he will not take. The idea of Russian meddling of Russian collusion seriously because it strikes at the heart of the legitimacy of his presidency and it suggests that he did not win this fight fair and square as we know he always says he had that a landslide win he won by the most you know electoral point he had them you know the popular vote as we know that didn't happen. So it all comes back the fact that the Russian collision story it it strikes at the heart of the past that he is a legitimate president and even at Jared Kushner who lets his. De facto campaign manager and takes credit for the digital six after the campaign. He distanced. Himself from this Russia collusion. Narrative saying that it's bit more harmful to the nation actually investigating it was really some shocking comment yesterday. And you flat at time magazine the bank. But because it also strips and hit the legitimacy. As they clearly now. Hell raising a lot of concerns among national security officials shorten their to. Some push back from the White House is wellness and there absolutely is there was really some interesting reporting from the New York Times that Wilson was directly rebuffed by chief of staff acting she does that make small rainy that he told her do not try to bring the south with the president. I'm Maldini is pushing back on that but he's not offering and directs denial he says. In a statement I don't recall anything along those lines happening. In England needing so he's he's saying he doesn't remember he's not saying it didn't happen explicitly. I don't think Demi it's it's worth noting that whether or not this exchange happened with me Bellini. National security officials have told ABC news that it's a known thing within this administration that if you bring up this topic of Russian interference. The potential for future resting in her parents. It causes of visceral reaction with president trump because for him bringing up this topic. Brings into question the legitimacy. At his summer national security officials tried to address this concern legitimate concern quietly. Not draw his attention I imagine it's quite difficult to do we need. Chief executive is not on board to thank you both for that report something to watch her primary White House correspondent Jordan also stick around as we move now to the president on the road today he was not Atlanta. A four east summit on OP ordered the use I don't Buick addiction he traveled there with the First Lady a short time ago addressing what he called successes. The administration has been having in the open Laurie epidemic take a listen. My administration is deploying every resource at our disposal to a power you. To support you. And do fight right by your side and that's what we're doing. We have results that are unbelievable. Numbers that I heard two weeks ago. That I was shocked to hear. We're making tremendous. Progress. Arts are here are some of those numbers take a look at him and the White House is deciding sort of successes. In the appeared crisis over the past couple years that president says he's put forth six billion dollars in new funding they are touting a 5%. Decline. It overdose deaths nationwide. He talked a lot today about a 34%. Decline. And hope your prescription prescriptions doctors write in those prescriptions. And he even says that DEA the drug administration is tracking 68%. Fewer adults over 26 using heroin and those are significant numbers. Especially in some of the hard hit areas take a look at this number. I don't West Virginia the president today singling out that state which are according to the NEH is is the epicenter of the oh north epidemic he says. Overdose deaths there are down 20%. Over the last year's show. Looks like we may be turned a corner. Yet safe in numbers is something that president Amazon talking about. Since a campaign but having it's worth noting that even if we have seen a recent trends and downward spiral this has been ticking upwards ax financially since 1999. We have heard Jordan from a lot of these community members on the ground from our team that's been reporting that West Virginia including here in the briefing room that. They're continuing to see this problem it's not going away as you're alluding to. The spike was so significant over the past and is that even a 20% dip in deaths. Does it mean that the addiction rates are are winging in in the significantly. Yeah absolutely in the Obama administration came under a lot of criticism for maybe missing this problem is being sent to beat thing for so long but. I you know as we seeing with these new numbers the White House has put out they have been putting an eye towards this program even. Putting a lot I think that's an important Kellyanne Conway the firstly have been pretty rough focused. Something we will keep it on here and a briefing room again taking a look here at some distance successes the White House is starting today though as we. Is said going before we caught up with Kate when there West Virginia still. Has the highest rate of drug overdose deaths in the nation three times the national average 800 people died. Last year alone in that states our thoughts are with those families today moving on out of politics twenty point politics the race for president. On the democratic side is about to get a little bit more crowded but an anticipating for some time. A former vice president Joseph Biden jumping into their race and our. A Biden expert here ABC news or Arthur reporter Molly Nagle is here to to tell us a little bit about what's in store for Joseph Biden let's show that if the field. For everybody that he is going to be running against because it is significant he's won the last again was as the poll. He clears the field. A whole bunch of folks that he's going to be up against we expect this announcement tomorrow Molly he does get in first graphic we saw there. The topped the list Sims got something going into his favor. That's right it's then that the announcement everybody has cut him long rumored and and waiting for children officially entering areas tomorrow morning releasing a video online announcing his candidacy now he'll follow that up with an event on Monday in Pittsburgh ABC news has learned. But he does enter this race. I as the twentieth democratic candidate entering the race but also a top of the polls as you reference the challenge for him will be staying on top of the polls as the front runner. Yeah he's and let's talk about some of the advantages the strengths. He brings that race could he does a lot of them as he gets and it's help us and talk through somebody's mind you and I were. Going through his credentials earlier in Biden has a lot of firepower starting with his experience. That's right in Joseph Biden has nearly a 100% name recognition is a former vice president he is served 37 years in the senate. So he has a long list of experience and a lot of people when you asked them what they like about Joseph Biden at these events. They named his experience as a top. Part of that they know that he's somebody who can walk into the oval office on day one and get the job done more time in the White House and here the other I didn't like. Democratic contenders also is remote even though he's not in the race suck up a lot of experts staff. In campaign aides and advisors they stuck with in this hallway so he's got some some pros advising him as well. Definitely one thing about buying world is that they are notoriously whale he keeps you very small. Group of loyal advisors at his side a lot of the same people that you're here talked about in 20/20 for a lot of missing people who are advising him in 2016 on that possible run when he was still considering that. So he keeps a very close staff of course has ties to the President Obama is still very popular will help them no down of course and it you know Joseph Biden has aren't even telling us President Obama has that he is not going to endorse in the primary but. I Joseph Biden are he says that he is an Obama Biden Democrat and he is going to eat definitely run on his connection to Jordan and. Out to his hometown and covered his roots that's a big part of his strengths that he brings to this race and that his team is talking about is. His blue collar appeal a lot of unions are beginning behind you while. Absolutely that is one of his strengths but haven't we also know there are a lot of weaknesses first I didn't take a look at what some of those are here we got a graphic. Actually even before he got out and you. Fund raising that's only thing. One weakness of bright is he hasn't really likes do we not part of the war and in fact today Molly on the front piece in the New York Times these and he starts with a zero dollars zero dollars now when you look at it behind big time. When you look at it at EC report friend the Biden for America campaign in 2012. As of June of 2012. That's at that zero dollars zero cash Bernie Sanders on the other hand has over 26 million dollars raised their earnings right Biden is going to face a lot of comparisons especially in these first few days that he's in the race. To see how his fundraising stack up to some of these other candidates like federal Eric and Bernie Sanders who brought in some pretty amazing songs in their first 24 hours not I'm not to mention how much they have in the campaign of. Hold it and him because we're talking previously about his experience. In both as strength but also be an incredible weakness here. I'm not only with some of the baggage of being you know in the senate for so long all those votes that his opponents will be able to pour over news against him. Com but we were talking about these female accusers if you will who have come out recently and talked about how uncomfortable Joseph Biden has made them feel. Absolutely until I just from a different generation right and he put out that video after. All of these accusations came out any sanctions will keep gets it he's willing to change but. The problem her and you know this party is if they're looking for something fresh for something new Joseph Biden is not that guy he's. Been around the block and he. Struggled to clean up. For some of those missteps is he's put them in here's we had an interview in the briefing room just a couple of weeks ago with one of the women said they felt uncomfortable by Joseph Biden Sophie cross sick. Here's what she said about the vice president. And how he's tried to make amends tables. What matters is. The impact. His actions and words are happening of course his intentions matter to but it's not that the impact doesn't matter stocks. And it's. I think that contrary to that it did it click that was released the other change. Joking about this show is actually he doesn't get at it. This is team and they. Concerned about this or do they think they have a good handle on. Messaging around that front going forward look I think they they have to be concerned about it because it's a story line that continues to kind of bubble but. The real challenge that the Biden camp is going to face is how do you balance. This recognition that this type of behavior is not okay. With the Joseph Biden that a lot of people really love and can act with that's going to be a huge challenge for him while he's out on the campaign trail how to be his true authentic self. While not crossing his lines and not making anybody feel. I'm comfortable being very cognizant that he's going to be under a microscope when it comes to this type of behavior because that's. And standing out Jordan and at a time when the Democratic Party is changing its face their ballots field that democratic diverse democratic candidates. A lot of women in the raise a lot of minority candidates in the race. Lot conversational whether Joseph Biden's moment has passed. That will be a challenge for him yeah absolutely and any keyword actually win the election he be I think the oldest person. I ever to hold off and B 788 nine duration day if you were to win the presidency I mean that's just remarkable sound certainly do not think the new face but a lot of people understand you people are turning to him his feet SE fist back. To take part a lot to watch my name. Thanks so much of the Arab drove Biden has this announcement lands tomorrow and then into the weekend. So we look forward to catching up with you thinking how many hundred grooming him he finally they were gonna shine a spotlight here at a briefing room on a story that hasn't gotten a lot of attention this what I did the UN up in New York the united nations Security Council. Earlier this week debate. Get a resolution. Aimed at combating sexual violence in war this is was resolution in the Security Council that would have condemned the rape. As a weapon of war and expressed support and justice for victims. To the people leading the charge on this more Angelina Jolie in a mall quoting. Here's what she had to say about promoting this resolution. The crimes committed by I -- against women and gals unlike anything we have witnessed in modern times. I says controlled territory the size of the United Kingdom and ruled AV eight million people. More than 40000. Foreign spices from 110 countries. Estimated to have joined ice this is ranks in Iraq and Syria. But the question of bringing them to justice has bad he raised a wrist. The resignation you are considering today makes the prevalence of sexual violence and rules or lay the wild. And states that you ought crates deep deacons son David a slave progress and eliminating sexual violence and conflict. I agree that we are facing an epidemic of sexual violence. And I believe that justice as that and today it. And that epidemic getting. A lot of attention at the UN that resolution did pass. Thirteen to nothing but not without some controversy let's get into the what that controversy was and what it meant to the text of the resolution. I was Sheba Crocker the vice president of care which is an international human humanitarian organization also former State Department official. She wrote it they he's so much for joining us in a briefing room I suppose someone hand. It some good news that we saw the UN endorsed this resolution but on the other hand I understand from a lot of groups including yours that this. Was a bit disappointing explain why. Yeah that's right I mean this isn't the first time we've seen a UN Security Council resolution on this issue. And the disappointing part was that with their passage yesterday op and a text in this year's resolution. We've seen a walk back from a critical part of the resolution which is the kind of support. That survivors need. Survivors and victims of sexual violence and conflict so although the resolution did as as you say ominous op when he was talking about address aspects route justice. Om and accountability for these crimes on the big missing piece on the part it was really watered down and in effect take out of this resolution altogether. Was om and unwavering commitment by the international community to ensure that women and girls who staged this kind of horrific violence in many cases. Sexual violence on me in the context of war have access to the poll panoply of a check up critical health services reproductive and sexual. Related health services that they need. Com and that care sees every day me into work that we do around the world that these survivors at this kind of violence need. And among those services I imagine her contraceptive needs in potentially abortion is that what was outrage in the trump administration on that front. Well I'm heading to question we have to ask the US administration in the US mission to United Nations is what message they wanna send to women and girls who have suffered from this kind of horrific violence. On there's no room for local politics or political maneuvering here that real question is are we offered these women and girls. On the survivors of this kind of violence the right kind of services Ahmed the services that we know they need and not only that they need but that they actually the fundamental human right. On the weird and it did a lot of the other delegates at the UN the French among them Shiva outraged. It because of the reasons your site in there but we're for our viewers who aren't familiar. With the scope and extent of sexual violence in war many people call it rape in war. How bad is it Danny can you give us a sense of what we're talking about when we won't Wear it when when you talk about sexual rounds or more. Yeah I mean it can take a range of forms obviously and sort of massive gang rape and just break up women is one of the most extreme but it also involves human trafficking can involve intimate partner violence. So their range of things that Dublin in case I think if you want to know about the extent of it. On the web what we've seen is that about one in five women who are humanitarian emergency report that they faced some kind of sexual buyout so of course again. That type of violence might ranged. On but that's an enormous number if you think about it right 20% of women on at women and girls always at the most part outlaw in the context of emergencies. Always have the most typical time even accessing basic services like water and food. On and then you layer on top of that that one in five of them. Are are reported. To be experiencing some kind of sexual violence and it's that peace really that is so disappointing and represent such shaking a huge walk back yesterday ami in the text of the resolution was passed. In a side broke quickly before you let you go Shiva aside from awareness which this resolution helps raise obviously. Having this conversation is important but what more can be done. Concretely to help help solve this problem. Well again I mean having dated full panoply of sort of the UN agencies being able to come and help survivors of buyouts with the full range of protection and support that they are entitled to is a critical piece of that and that's why. The fact that the UN Security Council yesterday basically said. I'm directly or indirectly right dead on that women do not cap right not have the right and not have access necessarily all the kinds support that they need. So care and other groups like us certainly will remain on the up alongside these women and helping to support that regardless of what those UN Security Council said yesterday. But omni in effect the UN Security Council was talking about both what the UN agencies and the UN system needs to do and and their rights and responsibilities of member states situations. Om and so for them to a fallen silent on this question on this just a really tremendous disappointment. In a troubling to a lot of people a lot of American allies as well Sheba Crocker. With care organization former State Department official thanks for joining us today thanks for helping to raise awareness about this very important that issue sexual violence in war at the UN and thanks to Sheila. I Jordan a lot to cover today in the briefing room a lot. Tomorrow we know that this is a big weekend for White House correspondents as well will be keeping an eye on the White House Correspondents' Association dinner and I'm Saturn at the president cycle and this year. Now on and even though last year. And he eighteen ousted this isn't entirely surprising but what is new this year is we're also not going to see other White House officials there. There's a total I'm Fanny hill caught on on him going and White House doesn't want to call it a band we got kind of late notice that a lot of these people that we've invited to the dinner. Won't be showing up but we're still going to be there to celebrate the journalism we do every day it happened and First Amendment for sure the president headed to Green Bay, Wisconsin this weekend we'll have that coverage for here on ABC news live in a much. A lot more news ahead here and ABC news five hope this season for that otherwise great to have torn Phelps of the Syrian Greek and among them into our Washington to see you back here tomorrow for 30 eastern.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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