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

Updated 17 mins ago - Science

In photos: Deadly wildfires devastate California's wine country

The Shady Fire ravages a home as it approaches Santa Rosa in Napa County, California, on Sept. 28. The blaze is part of the massive Glass Fire Complex, which has razed over 51,620 acres at 2% containment. Photo: Samuel Corum/Agence France-Presse/AFP via Getty Images

More than 1700 firefighters are battling 26 major blazes across California, including in the heart of the wine country, where one mega-blaze claimed the lives of three people and forced thousands of others to evacuate this week.

The big picture: More than 8,100 wildfires have burned across a record 39 million-plus acres, killing 29 people and razing almost 7,900 structures in California this year, per Cal Fire. Just like the deadly blazes of 2017, the wine country has become a wildfires epicenter. Gov. Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency in Napa, Sonoma, and Shasta counties.

Updated 59 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 12:30 a.m. ET: 33,880,896 — Total deaths: 1,012,964 — Total recoveries: 23,551,663Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 12:30 a.m. ET: 7,232,823 — Total deaths: 206,887 — Total recoveries: 2,840,688 — Total tests: 103,939,667Map.
  3. Education: School-aged children now make up 10% of all U.S COVID-19 cases.
  4. Health: Moderna says its coronavirus vaccine won't be ready until 2021
  5. Travel: CDC: 3,689 COVID-19 or coronavirus-like cases found on cruise ships in U.S. waters — Airlines begin mass layoffs while clinging to hope for federal aid
  6. Business: Real-time data show economy's rebound slowing but still going.
  7. Sports: Steelers-Titans NFL game delayed after coronavirus outbreak.

CDC: 3,689 COVID-19 or coronavirus-like cases found on cruise ships in U.S.

Cruise Ships docked in April at the port at Marina Long Beach due to a no-sail order in Long Beach, in California. Photo: Apu Gomes/AFP via Getty Images

There have been at least 3,689 COVID-19 or coronavirus-like illness cases on cruise ships in U.S. waters, "in addition to at least 41 reported deaths," the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said late Wednesday.

Driving the news: The CDC released the data from the period of March 1 through Sept. 29 in an emailed statement confirming the extension of a No Sail Order for cruise ships through Oct. 31, as first reported by Axios' Jonathan Swan on Tuesday in his article revealing CDC director Robert Redfield was overruled in a push to extend the order into 2021.

Get Axios AM in your inbox

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!