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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:
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.
Matthew E. Morgan
Counsel to the Vice President