Sep 23, 2019

Key House committees threaten subpoenas over Trump-Ukraine allegations

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

The Democratic chairs of the House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees on Monday sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo demanding that the State Department produce documents related to allegations that President Trump and his attorney Rudy Giuliani have pressured the Ukrainian government to investigate Joe Biden.

“Seeking to enlist a foreign actor to interfere with an American election undermines our sovereignty, democracy, and the Constitution, which the President is sworn to preserve, protect, and defend.  Yet the President and his personal attorney now appear to be openly engaging in precisely this type of abuse of power involving the Ukrainian government ahead of the 2020 election."
— Chairs Adam Schiff, Elijah Cummings and Eliot Engel

Why it matters: With a majority in the House, Democrats have the power to subpoena Trump administration officials to cooperate in their investigations. The allegations over Trump and Ukraine have erupted into a source of massive controversy over the past week, with Democratic leaders such as House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) suggesting that they could pave a new path to impeachment.

  • Trump on Sunday confirmed that he discussed Joe Biden and his son during a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25, but he has maintained that the conversation did not involve any impropriety.
  • Trump has instead doubled down on baseless allegations that Biden forced Ukraine to fire a prosecutor probing his son, arguing that it would be appropriate to investigate the former vice president for corruption.

Reality check: The majority of the subpoenas issued to former and current Trump officials have been blocked by the administration, teeing up prolonged court battles over the question of executive privilege. It's likely that Pompeo will be equally defiant in the face of a Democratic subpoena, though it's worth noting that Giuliani — who does not serve in the administration — may not be covered by the same assertion of alleged privilege.

What to watch: The 3 chairmen have given Pompeo until the end of Thursday to turn over relevant documents and avoid a subpoena. That same day, acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire will testify in open session before the House Intelligence Committee about a whistleblower complaint that reportedly concerns Trump and Ukraine.

Read the letter:

Go deeper: Pelosi hints at impeachment over Trump-Ukraine whistleblower complaint

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House Democrats subpoena Rudy Giuliani for Ukraine documents

Photo: Siavosh Hosseini/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Rudy Giuliani has been subpoenaed by the House Intelligence Committee to produce documents by Oct. 15 related to his and President Trump's alleged efforts to push the government of Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden.

Why it matters: Over the past year, Giuliani has met with a variety of Ukrainian officials in an effort to investigate baseless allegations that Biden forced Ukraine to fire a prosecutor investigating his son, Hunter. In a July phone call that is now at the heart of House Democrats' impeachment inquiry, Trump asked Ukraine's president to work with Giuliani to investigate Biden — prompting allegations by a whistleblower that Trump was soliciting foreign interference in the 2020 election.

Go deeperArrowSep 30, 2019

House chairs threaten White House subpoena in impeachment inquiry

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The chairs of the House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees released a memo and draft subpoena on Wednesday that would compel the White House to turn over documents related to their impeachment inquiry into President Trump's alleged efforts to push Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden.

"The White House’s flagrant disregard of multiple voluntary requests for documents—combined with stark and urgent warnings from the Inspector General about the gravity of these allegations—have left us with no choice but to issue this subpoena."
— Chairs Adam Schiff, Elijah Cummings and Eliot Engel
Go deeperArrowOct 2, 2019

House chairmen suggest Pompeo conflict of interest

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The chairs of the House Foreign Affairs, Intelligence and Oversight committees said in a letter Tuesday that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo "appears to have an obvious conflict of interest" over President Trump's impeachment inquiry. And they warn that Pompeo may be in violation of the law if he tries to prevent staff from testifying.

Why it matters: The letter to Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan is the latest escalation in a war of words between Pompeo and these House committees probing the Trump administration's alleged efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate 2020 candidate Joe Biden.

Go deeperArrowOct 2, 2019