Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, sent a letter asking Chairman Trey Gowdy to issue a subpoena for documents the White House has been withholding for months in response to the Committee’s bipartisan investigation into troubling reports that senior White House and cabinet officials, including Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway, were squandering tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars by traveling around the country on private jets.
President Trump reportedly became so upset by these abuses that he fired Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Tom Price. Yet, the White House has refused to provide any documents to the Committee despite press reports that Conway joined some of these trips.
“Under your chairmanship, the Committee has launched three investigations of the White House — into private jets, private email, and security clearances — but the White House has completely stonewalled our requests for documents in all three,” Cummings wrote. “If you do not issue a subpoena at this point, it will be obvious to the White House and the American people that the Committee has no intention of serving as a true check on the Executive Branch.”
New HHS documents reviewed by Committee staff in camera confirm that Conway and other White House officials traveled on several of the trips with Price, costing the taxpayers tens of thousands of additional dollars:
- On May 9, 2017, Secretary Price and Ms. Conway traveled from Washington, D.C. to Lansing, Michigan, to Charleston, West Virginia, and back to Washington, D.C.
- On May 10, 2017, Secretary Price and Ms. Conway traveled from Washington, D.C. to Augusta, Maine, to Concord, New Hampshire, and back to Washington, D.C. Several staff to Ms. Conway were listed as accompanying her. The total cost of the May 9 and May 10 flights for all passengers was $44,531.45.
- On July 6, 2017, Secretary Price and Ms. Conway traveled from Washington, D.C. to Chattanooga, Tennessee, and back to Washington, D.C. The total cost of these flights for all passengers was $14,569.90.
- On September 15, 2017, Secretary Price and Ms. Conway traveled from Washington, D.C. to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and back to Washington, D.C. The cost of these flights was not reported in documents produced to the Committee.
In addition, the Department of the Treasury has now confirmed that it received checks from Price totaling nearly $60,000 to reimburse the American taxpayers for his portion of these expenses, writing: “The Department of the Treasury has received three checks from Mr. Price in the amounts of $51,887.31, $6,013.66, and $1,489.00. A handwritten notation on the checks indicates that they relate to certain travel expenses.”
Today, Cummings also released three letters from the White House — October 10, 2017 , November 3, 2017 , and December 4, 2017 — refusing to provide any documents whatsoever in response to repeated requests from both Gowdy and Cummings to comply with the Committee’s bipartisan request for documents on September 26, 2017 .
“[T]he White House has sent us a series of inexplicable excuses: suggesting that some offices within the Executive Office of the President (EOP) do not report to the Chief of Staff, directing our Committee to the National Archives and Records Administration, and insisting that we seek documents instead from only those White House offices that are required to comply with the Freedom of Information Act and the Federal Records Act,” Cummings wrote.
Cummings also sent a separate letter to Ms. Conway on October 4, 2017, seeking documents relating to her private non-commercial and military flights from January 20, 2017, to the present. She never responded.
“To date, the White House has refused to provide any documents at all, including those relating to Ms. Conway’s participation in these trips, whether she intends to repay the taxpayers for the cost of her travel, or whether the President is considering any disciplinary action against her in light of his decision to fire Secretary Price for participating in the same trips,” Cummings wrote.
Conway has been cited repeatedly for multiple ethics violations at the White House, including as recently as last week .
Click here to read today’s letter from Cummings.