Impeachment Investigators Subpoena White House - Ukraine
WASHINGTON — House impeachment investigators widened the reach of their inquiry on Friday, subpoenaing the White House for a vast trove of documents and requesting more from Vice President Mike Pence to better understand President Trump’s attempts to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rivals.
The subpoena, addressed to Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, calls for documents and communications that are highly delicate and would typically be subject in almost any White House to claims of executive privilege. If handed over by the Oct. 18 deadline, the records could provide keys to understanding what transpired between the two countries and what steps, if any, the White House has taken to cover it up.
The request for records from a sitting vice president is unusual in its own right, and Mr. Pence’s office quickly signaled he may not comply. In a letter to Mr. Pence, the chairmen of three House committees conducting the impeachment inquiry wrote that they were interested in “any role you may have played” in conveying Mr. Trump’s views to Ukraine. They asked for a lengthy list of documents detailing the administration’s dealings with Ukraine, to be produced by Oct. 15.
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The actions came at the end of another day of fast-moving developments in the House impeachment investigation, which is centered on allegations that Mr. Trump and his administration worked to bend America’s diplomatic apparatus for his own political benefit.
“They’ll just get their people,” he said of House Democrats. “They’re all in line. Because even though many of them don’t want to vote, they have no choice. They have to follow their leadership. And then we’ll get it to the Senate, and we’re going to win.” Privately, Mr. Trump briefly joined a conference call of House Republicans, defending his interactions with Ukraine and rallying his party to fight for him.
“What the inspector general said last time was, the whistle-blower pulled the fire alarm,” Representative Mike Quigley, Democrat of Illinois, told reporters. “We have now seen the smoke and the fire.”
“The White House has refused to engage with — or even respond to — multiple requests for documents from our Committees on a voluntary basis,” said the letter to Mr. Mulvaney, signed by Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the Intelligence Committee chairman; Representative Eliot L. Engel of New York, the Foreign Affairs Committee chairman; and Representative Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, the Oversight and Reform Committee chairman. “After nearly a month of stonewalling, it appears clear that the president has chosen the path of defiance, obstruction, and cover-up.”
Even as they worked, lawmakers from both parties continued Friday morning to try to make sense of a tranche of texts between American diplomats and a top aide to the Ukrainian president. Those messages were released late Thursday night, and called into question the truthfulness of Mr. Trump’s claim that there had been no quid pro quo attached to his pressing Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., his son and other Democrats.
A Trump appointee, Mr. Atkinson helped set off the current saga less than a month ago when he notified Congress’s intelligence committees that he had received an anonymous whistle-blower complaint that he deemed to be “urgent” and credible. The acting director of national intelligence intervened initially to block Mr. Atkinson from sharing the complaint with Congress, but ultimately the Trump administration relented and allowed its public release.
Details of the complaint, including a July call between Mr. Trump and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, have already been verified. The texts released late Thursday also appeared to comport with elements of the complaint.