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Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The counsel for Vice President Mike Pence sent a letter to the chairmen of the House committees investigating President Trump and Ukraine on Tuesday informing them that he will not cooperate with a request for documents in their "self-proclaimed" impeachment inquiry.

Why it matters: This is in line with the White House's current stance of blanket noncooperation, which has prompted the House chairmen conducting the investigation to warn that defiance could be used as evidence of obstruction in a future article of impeachment. Some have speculated that Speaker Nancy Pelosi could call the White House's bluff and announce a full House vote authorizing the impeachment inquiry, daring the administration to continue to defy subpoenas and document requests.

Read the letter:

Dear Chairmen:
The Office of the Vice President has received the Committees' Letter to the Vice President, dated October 4, 2019, which requests a wide-ranging scope of documents, some of which are clearly not vice-presidential records, pursuant to a self-proclaimed "impeachment inquiry." As noted in the October 8, 2019 letter from the White House Counsel to each of you and to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the purported "impeachment inquiry" has been designed and implemented in a manner that calls into question your commitment to fundamental fairness and due process rights.
The Office of the Vice President recognizes the oversight role of your respective committees in Congress. Please know that if the Committees wish to return to the regular order of legitimate legislative oversight requests, and the Committees have appropriate requests for information solely in the custody of the Office of the Vice President, we are prepared to work with you in a manner consistent with well-established bipartisan constitutional protections and a respect for the separation of powers. Until that time, the Office of the Vice President will continue to reserve all rights and privileges that may apply, including those protecting executive privileges, national security, attorney-client communications, deliberations, and communications among the President, the Vice President, and their advisors.
As detailed in the White House Counsel Letter, the House of Representatives has not authorized any "impeachment inquiry." Specifically, the operative House rules do not delegate to any committee the authority to conduct an inquiry under the impeachment power of Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution. Instead of being accountable to the American people and casting a vote to authorize what all agree is a substantial constitutional step, you have instead attempted to avoid this fundamental requirement by invoking the Speaker's announcement of an "official impeachment inquiry" at a press conference? Never before in history has the Speaker of the House attempted to launch an "impeachment inquiry" against a President without a majority of the House of Representatives voting to authorize a constitutionally acceptable process.
The Office of the Vice President encourages the Committees to forgo their request to the Office of the Vice President, or hold it in abeyance, pending your discussion with the White House Counsel's Office concerning compliance with constitutionally mandated procedures. Similarly, the Office of the Vice President encourages the Committees to first seek information from primary sources that may be responsive to your broad requests.
Sincerely, 
Matthew E. Morgan
Counsel to the Vice President

Go deeper

Collins helps contractor before pro-Susan PAC gets donation

Sen. Susan Collins during her reelection campaign. Photo: Scott Eisen/Getty Images

A PAC backing Sen. Susan Collins in her high-stakes reelection campaign received $150,000 from an entity linked to the wife of a defense contractor whose firm Collins helped land a federal contract, new public records show.

Why it matters: The executive, Martin Kao of Honolulu, leaned heavily on his political connections to boost his business, federal prosecutors say in an ongoing criminal case against him. The donation linked to Kao was veiled until last week.

How cutting GOP corporate cash could backfire

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Companies pulling back on political donations, particularly to members of Congress who voted against certifying President Biden's election win, could inadvertently push Republicans to embrace their party's rightward fringe.

Why it matters: Scores of corporate PACs have paused, scaled back or entirely abandoned their political giving programs. While designed to distance those companies from events that coincided with this month's deadly siege on the U.S. Capitol, research suggests the moves could actually empower the far-right.

9 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Kaine, Collins pitch Senate colleagues on censuring Trump

Sen. Tim Kaine speaks with Sen. Susan Collins. Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP via Getty Images

Sens. Tim Kaine and Susan Collins are privately pitching their colleagues on a bipartisan resolution censuring former President Trump, three sources familiar with the discussions tell Axios.

Why it matters: Senators are looking for a way to condemn Trump on the record as it becomes increasingly unlikely Democrats will obtain the 17 Republican votes needed to gain a conviction in his second impeachment.

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