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Committee Depositions in the House of Representatives: Longstanding Republican and Democratic Practice of Excluding Agency Counsel Whistleblower Complaint on Ukraine (Kelly Smith, comp.) 1 (11/5/2019)

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                 Committee  Depositions in the House of Representatives:
     Longstanding  Republican and  Democratic Practice of Excluding Agency Counsel

       The Trump  Administration has taken issue with agency counsel being excluded from
congressional depositions-a procedure that is enshrined in House Rules, was repeatedly
expanded by Republicans, and has been used by both Republicans and Democrats for decades.

       This argument has no merit. Instead, it is the latest in a long line of baseless procedural
challenges to the House of Representatives' authority to fulfill one of its most solemn
responsibilities under the Constitution. The deposition rule that excludes agency counsel is
intended for exactly these types of circumstances-to prevent agency officials who are directly
implicated in the abuses we are investigating from trying to prevent their own employees from
coming forward to tell the truth to Congress. This rationale applies with the same force to the
Executive Office of the President as it does to any other Executive Branch agency.

       The White House's frivolous challenge to the House deposition rules contradicts decades
of precedent in which Republicans and Democrats have used exactly the same procedures to
depose Executive Branch officials without agency counsel present, including some of the most
senior aides to multiple previous Presidents.

       These same deposition procedures were supported by Acting White House Chief of Staff
Mick Mulvaney  when he served as a Member of the Oversight Committee and by Secretary of
State Mike Pompeo when  he served as a Member of the Benghazi Select Committee. In fact,
some of the same Members and staff currently conducting depositions as part of the present
impeachment  inquiry participated directly in depositions without agency counsel during the
Clinton, Bush, and Obama Administrations. There should not be a different standard now
because Donald Trump  is in the White House.

       Chairman  Dan  Burton

       When  Republican Rep. Dan Burton served as Chairman of the Committee on
Government  Reform, the Committee deposed 141 Clinton Administration officials without
agency counsel present-including the following top advisors to President Bill Clinton:

       *      White House Chief of Staff Mack McLarty;
       *      White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles;
       *      White House Counsel Bernard Nussbaum;
       *      White House Counsel Jack Quinn;
       *      Deputy White House Counsel Bruce Lindsey;
       *      Deputy White House Counsel Cheryl Mills;
       *      Deputy White House Chief of Staff Harold Ickes;
       *      Chief of Staff to the Vice President Roy Neel; and
       *      Chief of Staff to the First Lady Margaret Williams.


       1 Committee on Government Reform, Democratic Staff, Congressional Oversight of the Clinton
Administration (Jan. 17, 2006) (online at https://wayback.archive-it.org/4949/20141031200116/http://oversight-

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