Oct 15, 2019

Pence tells House committees he will not cooperate in impeachment inquiry

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

House plans to formalize impeachment procedures this week

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The House will vote on a resolution Thursday that will formalize procedures for the next phase of the impeachment inquiry into President Trump, Speaker Nancy Pelosi confirmed on Monday.

Why it matters: Trump and his allies have argued that the current impeachment inquiry is unconstitutional because it hasn't been voted on by the full House — a claim that Pelosi and Democratic leaders have called baseless. However, in a letter to House Democrats Monday, Pelosi wrote that members will vote in order to "eliminate any doubt as to whether the Trump Administration may withhold documents, prevent witness testimony, disregard duly authorized subpoenas, or continue obstructing the House of Representatives."

Go deeperArrowOct 28, 2019

Scoop: The West Wing's impeachment war room

Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham introduced a resolution yesterday condemning the Trump impeachment inquiry. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Top Trump officials have quietly created a de facto impeachment war room, with a chief goal of policing and solidifying Republican Senate support for acquittal.

What's happening: Most senior officials in the White House recognized quickly that the G7 and Syria decisions harmed the president's standing with Senate Republicans, and realized that could bleed over and cause problems for their impeachment firewall.

Go deeperArrowOct 25, 2019

House votes to formalize Trump impeachment inquiry procedures

Photos: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images; Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post via Getty Images; Alex Wong/Getty Images

The House passed a resolution Thursday to formalize the procedures in President Trump's impeachment inquiry in a 232-196 vote that fell largely along party lines.

Why it matters: Trump and his allies have previously argued that the lack of a full House vote was against longstanding precedent — and used that reasoning to be uncooperative with Democrats' investigation.

Go deeperArrowOct 31, 2019