Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Image

White House counsel Pat Cipollone sent a letter to top House Democrats on Thursday rejecting their request for documents related to President Trump's conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Politico reports.

Details: Addressing the chairs of the House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees, Cipollone argued: “The committees’ letters cite no legal authority for the proposition that another branch of the government can force the president to disclose diplomatic communications with foreign leaders or that supports forcing disclosure of the confidential internal deliberations of the president’s national security advisors."

Cipollone continued:

"With all respect, the Constitution assigns the President the role of charting the course of U.S. foreign policy and determining which diplomatic communications advance the national interest. Policy disagreements with the President's decisions on those matters do not create a legislative right to review the President's diplomatic communications with foreign leaders."

Why it matters: The Washington Post reported earlier this year that Trump has repeatedly sought to conceal the details of his face-to-face conversations with Putin from senior officials in his own administration, even going as far as to confiscate notes from his own interpreter. In the context of the investigation into the Trump campaign's ties to the Russian government, Democrats have said they find this behavior alarming.

The big picture: The White House has now rejected oversight requests from congressional Democrats at least three times. Cipollone sent a similar letter earlier this month refusing to turn over documents related to White House security clearances.

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Liberty University's Jerry Falwell Jr. agrees to “indefinite leave of absence”

Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. in 2019. Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Jerry Falwell Jr. will take an “indefinite leave of absence” from his roles as president and chancellor of Liberty University after posting a photo of himself with unzipped pants and an arm around a woman on social media, according to the school.

The state of play: The picture, which has since been deleted, drew backlash and charges of hypocrisy from conservative political figures because the university's honor code strictly prohibits students from having "sexual relations outside of a biblically-ordained marriage," and recommends they dress with“appropriateness” and “modesty."

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 4 p.m. ET: 19,189,737 — Total deaths: 716,669 — Total recoveries — 11,610,192Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 4 p.m. ET: 4,917,050 — Total deaths: 160,702 — Total recoveries: 1,598,624 — Total tests: 59,652,675Map.
  3. Politics: White House recommends Trump issue executive orders on coronavirus aid.
  4. Education: Cuomo says all New York schools can reopen for in-person learning.
  5. Public health: Surgeon general urges flu shots to prevent "double whammy" with coronavirus.
  6. World: Africa records over 1 million coronavirus cases — Gates Foundation puts $150 million behind coronavirus vaccine production.

White House recommends Trump issue executive orders on coronavirus aid

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin (L) and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows speak to the media on Capitol Hill. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images.

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said President Trump should sign executive orders unilaterally addressing coronavirus stimulus spending after negotiations with congressional Democrats stalled again on Friday.

Why it matters: Friday was viewed as a self-imposed deadline to negotiate a new relief bill. But after an intense week of negotiations on Capitol Hill, White House and Democratic leadership failed to reach a deal on delivering much needed aid to Americans and businesses.