Democrats subpoena White House in impeachment inquiry

Trump has resisted attempts to produce documents and witnesses in Ukraine row

President Donald Trump’s comments came shortly before Democrats sent an extensive request for documents to Vice President Mike Pence about his contacts with Ukraine. Photograph: EPA

President Donald Trump’s comments came shortly before Democrats sent an extensive request for documents to Vice President Mike Pence about his contacts with Ukraine. Photograph: EPA

 

A committee has sent a subpoena to the White House demanding documents that could provide details on US President Donald Trump’s effort to push Ukraine to produce information that could damage Joe Biden’s presidential run.

The subpoena was issued by the House Oversight and Reform Committee as part of Democrats’ impeachment investigation of Mr Trump.

The President has resisted Democratic attempts to produce documents and administration witnesses for the impeachment inquiry.

The subpoena seems likely to escalate the clash between the two branches of government.

Panel chairman Elijah Cummings had threatened the subpoena on Wednesday after the White House ignored two letters last month seeking the documents.

Mr Trump was withholding military aid to Ukraine when he used a July phone call to ask its president to investigate Mr Biden over an unfounded corruption allegation.

Mr Trump said he would formally object to the impeachment investigation, even as he acknowledged that House Democrats “have the votes” to proceed.

Democrats warned Mr Trump is “on a path of defiance, obstruction and cover-up” and said defying their subpoena would be considered “evidence of obstruction,” potentially an impeachable offence.

Would not cooperate

The White House was expected to send a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arguing that Congress could not mount its impeachment inquiry without first having a vote to authorise it. The letter was expected to say the administration would not cooperate with the probe without that vote.

Mr Trump said the resolution would likely pass the House, but he predicted it would backfire on Democrats.

“I really believe that they’re going to pay a tremendous price at the polls,” he said.

Three Democratic chairmen – Elijah Cummings, Adam Schiff and Eliot Engel – warned Mr Trump in a letter accompanying their subpoena, stating: “Speaker Pelosi has confirmed that an impeachment inquiry is under way, and it is not for the White House to say otherwise.”

Mr Trump’s comments came shortly before Democrats sent an extensive request for documents to vice president Mike Pence about his contacts with Ukraine.

Lawmakers have made Mr Trump’s request that Ukraine investigate former vice president Joe Biden the centrepiece of the probe.

A whistleblower complaint said that Mr Trump sought to use military assistance for Ukraine to push President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate the 2020 Democratic hopeful.

Pence spokeswoman Katie Waldman dismissed the new demand for documents, saying that given its wide scope, “it does not appear to be a serious request”. – AP