Democrats Subpoena White House Records in Ukraine Investigation

Billy House

(Bloomberg) -- House impeachment investigators on Friday subpoenaed the White House for documents on efforts by President Donald Trump and his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani to pressure Ukraine, an escalation in the battle between Democrats and the White House over records and testimony.

Much of the information sought relates to alleged attempts by Trump and Giuliani, as well as others in the administration, to prod Ukraine into launching an investigation to help discredit Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

The chairmen of the House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees, which are leading the inquiry, set a deadline of Oct. 18 for the White House to turn over the records.

“We deeply regret that President Trump has put us -- and the nation -- in this position, but his actions have left us with no choice but to issue this subpoena,” the chairmen, Elijah Cummings of Oversight & Reform, Eliot Engel of Foreign Affairs and Adam Schiff of Intelligence, said in a joint statement.

White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement on Friday evening that “this subpoena changes nothing – just more document requests, wasted time, and taxpayer dollars that will ultimately show the president did nothing wrong.”

The chairmen have also asked Vice President Mike Pence to provide documents for the inquiry. They said in a letter on Friday that public reports “have raised questions about any role you may have played in conveying or reinforcing the president’s stark message to the Ukrainian president.”

Suspension of Aid

The White House has repeatedly rebuffed or stalled demands by House Democrats for documents and testimony from officials, and an administration snub of the subpoena would set up the latest legal stand-off between the two branches of government.

The material being sought, outlined in previous letters to White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, include all records related to a temporary suspension of aid to Ukraine.

The committees also want any records related to Trump’s July 25 telephone conversation with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, including a full transcript, and a list of all White House staff who participated in or assisted with the call.

Also being sought are “all records generated or received by White House staff with or referring to President Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani,” according to a Sept. 9 letter to Cipollone.

Secretary of State Michael Pompeo had been subpoenaed previously by Cummings, Schiff and Engel. Friday is the deadline for the State Department to respond to that subpoena.

A stand-off over the records would likely move to the courts, where House Democrats leading an impeachment probe already have instigated litigation seeking access to material related to other fronts in the inquiry.

House Democrats have let it be known that they could consider among articles of impeachment language condemning the president for obstruction in failing to respond to subpoenas and instructing others to do so.

(Updates with White House response, letter to Pence, beginning in fifth paragraph.)

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