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White House contests subpoena of top Obama political aide

Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, speaks during "The Security Failures of Be
Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, speaks during "The Security Failures of Be

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House asked the Republican chairman of a congressional committee on Monday to lift a subpoena against President Barack Obama's political adviser, who has been called to testify on Wednesday about his office's operations.

Representative Darrell Issa, chairman of the House of Representatives' Oversight and Government Reform Committee, last week subpoenaed Obama political adviser David Simas to testify about how his office complies with the Hatch Act, a law that forbids most federal government employees from engaging in partisan political activity.

Simas is director of the White House Office of Political Strategy and Outreach. Recent presidents, both Democratic and Republican, have all had at least one top political adviser in a position similar to that of Simas.

The subpoena is "precipitate and surprising in light of our clear willingness to work with you to meet your informational needs," White House counsel Neil Eggleston wrote in a letter to Issa on Monday.

Eggleston asked Issa to lift the subpoena. The letter did not say whether Simas would be allowed to testify if forced. Aides are hoping a briefing that White House legal staff are to provide to Issa on Tuesday will answer any remaining questions he might have.

"While I am hopeful that we can work together constructively to address your stated interests, your subpoena is not helpful to these efforts," Eggleston wrote.

(Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

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