Democratic congressman: Administration officials who ignore subpoenas do so 'at their peril'

Elias Hubbard
October 9, 2019

The letter was the result of an intense behind-the-scenes effort in recent days by White House lawyers to respond to the Democrats' impeachment bid. In 2016, Joe Biden, then vice president, pressured Ukraine to fire Shokin at the behest of USA and European Union officials.

A transcript of the call, released by the White House on September 25, revealed that Trump had asked Zelensky to look into Biden's dealings in Ukraine but hadn't pressured him, and there was no quid pro quo.

"The president said Article 2 says, 'I can do whatever I want.' No, it doesn't Mr. President. You will be held accountable".

House Democrats launched a formal impeachment inquiry into Trump after the first whistleblower's allegations emerged in public.

"Never before in our history has the House of Representatives-under the control of either political party-taken the American people down the unsafe path you seem determined to pursue", Cipollone wrote Tuesday.

"You have designed and implemented your inquiry in a manner that violates fundamental fairness and constitutionally mandated due process", the letter said.

"Because participating in this inquiry under the current unconstitutional posture would inflict lasting institutional harm on the executive branch and lasting damage to the separation of powers, you have left the president no choice".

"There is no valid basis to withhold documents from the committees by relying on instructions from Secretary Pompeo, who is a fact witness in this inquiry and who is now defying his own duly issued subpoena for documents - particularly if the Department's goal is to block the committees from gaining access to your documents prior to your testimony".

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who has repeatedly drawn Trump's ire, tweeted that the letter shows that the White House thinks Trump "is above the law" but that "The Constitution says otherwise".

"Early this morning, the U.S. Department of State directed Ambassador Gordon Sondland not to appear today for his scheduled transcribed interview before the U.S. House of Representatives Joint Committee", the law firm representing Sondland said in a statement.

Trump wrote on Twitter that he wasn't going to subject Sondland to questions from a "kangaroo court", an allusion to what he called the unfairness of the process.

House Democrats accuse the president of leveraging his office and withholding USA aid to Ukraine to obtain "dirt" on a political opponent-2020 Democratic candidate Joe Biden.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday said President Trump is "obstructing Congress from getting the facts" it needs in the impeachment inquiry after his administration blocked a United States diplomat from testifying before three committees.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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