Since January, Democrats requesting oversight information from the Trump Administration have been largely ignored by federal agencies, and sources say the practice has now become an official order from the White House.
Politico reports that Republicans see the stonewalling as a strategic play to keep Democrats from gaining information they could use to attack the president, even though he publicly embarrasses himself every time he exits his plane or stands at a podium. The Administration has informally been ignoring these requests since January, even those that serve practical purposes, but this is making that policy official.
Under the Obama administration, some Republican requests were also sometimes ignored, but never via a blanket order against cooperation. Former State Department worker Austin Evers, who now runs watchdog organization American Oversight, explained why this shift is so significant in regards to transparency and government function:
“Instructing agencies not to communicate with members of the minority party will poison the well. It will damage relationships between career staffers at agencies and subject matter experts in Congress,” Evers said. “One of the reasons you respond to letters from the minority party is to explain yourself. It is to put on the record that even accusations that you find unreasonable are not accurate.”
The official rule, according to a White House spokesperson, is that government agencies must comply with the information requests of all “chairmen, regardless of their political party.” All the current chairmen are Republicans.