A trio of top Democrats demanded documents Thursday related to President Donald Trump’s recent staff shakeup at the Homeland Security Department.
In a letter to acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan, Reps. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) called on the department to turn over communications tied a spate of resignations and forced exits earlier this month. The lawmakers cited reports that White House senior adviser Stephen Miller had pressed department officials “to make extreme immigration policy decisions.”
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“We are deeply concerned that the firing and forced resignation of these officials puts the security of the American people at risk,” the lawmakers wrote. “We are also concerned that the president may have removed DHS officials because they refused his demands to violate federal immigration law and judicial orders.“
The missive — which gives DHS until May 9 to produce emails and other documents — comes after the White House said Wednesday that Miller would not testify before the House Oversight and Reform Committee, which is chaired by Cummings. Miller, who is widely understood to be the architect of Trump’s aggressive immigration agenda, reportedly pushed for the removal of several DHS officials as the administration retooled the DHS leadership ranks.
The White House argued that the decision to forgo Miller’s appearance before the Democratic-led committee follows “long-standing precedent” for White House staffers of both parties and adheres to constitutional law.
Cummings sent a letter to Miller last week that invited him to appear voluntarily at a May 1 hearing that will focus on the administration’s immigration policies. The committee chairman said he requested Miller’s presence because of his apparent role in Trump’s “troubling” immigration policy agenda.
In its response, the White House argued that Cabinet members and agency leaders have testified regularly before Congress and would continue to do so, but that Miller’s testimony was not warranted.
“We welcome the opportunity to discuss the administration’s immigration policy priorities,” White House counsel Pat Cipollone wrote in a related letter.
Cummings, Nadler, and Thompson appeared to strike back Thursday with the new document demands. The latter two lawmakers chair the House Judiciary and Homeland Security committees, respectively.
In the letter sent to McAleenan, the Democratic committee leaders cited recent media reports that suggest Miller has “taken on a greater role in leading the administration’s immigration policy.”
The letter referenced a POLITICO article published Monday that detailed Miller’s attempts to disclose more personal information about arrested migrants.