Oct 3, 2019

Scoop: Trump letter dares Pelosi to hold vote on impeachment inquiry

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The White House is planning to send Speaker Nancy Pelosi a letter as soon as Friday arguing that President Trump and his team can ignore lawmakers' demands until she holds a full House vote formally approving an impeachment inquiry, 2 sources familiar with the letter tell Axios.

Why it matters: By putting in writing the case that Trump and his supporters have been making verbally for days, the White House is preparing for a court fight and arguing to the public that its resistance to Congress' requests is justified.

  • Trump wants to force House Democrats in vulnerable races to be on the record if they favor pursuing impeachment, these sources tell us.
  • Republicans also say the minority party can exert more influence over hearings and other aspects of an inquiry once it is formalized with a vote.
  • By calling this an inquiry without holding a vote, Pelosi and the Democratic committee chairmen are having it both ways, one official said. "They want to be a little bit pregnant."

Worth noting: While a letter to Pelosi and the committee chairmen had been drafted, it had not been finalized or signed as of Thursday night.

Behind the scenes: Several White House lawyers spent a good chunk of their Thursday reviewing the language in the letter, expecting that it could find its way before a judge.

  • Meanwhile, Pelosi maintains that there "is no requirement under the Constitution, under House Rules, or House precedent that the whole House vote before proceeding with an impeachment inquiry," as she stated in a Thursday letter to the House's Republican Leader, Kevin McCarthy.
  • "For several decades, impeachment investigations have frequently been conducted without a full vote,” Pelosi spokeswoman Ashley Etienne told Axios.
  • “Given that the President just this morning on national television urged yet another foreign government to meddle in our upcoming 2020 elections, we would think the White House would want to mount a rigorous defense of the President’s clear betrayal of his oath of office," a senior Democratic aide told Axios.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Go deeper: Pelosi responds to McCarthy's call to suspend impeachment inquiry

Go deeper

Pelosi responds to House GOP leader's call to suspend impeachment inquiry

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday responded to Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's (R-Calif.) call to suspend the impeachment inquiry into President Trump, dismissing the top Republican's claim that an inquiry must be authorized by a full House vote.

"As you know, our Founders were specifically intent on ensuring that foreign entities did not undermine the integrity of our elections. I received your letter this morning shortly after the world witnessed President Trump on national television asking yet another foreign power to interfere in the upcoming 2020 elections."
Go deeperArrowOct 3, 2019

House Democrats subpoena White House in impeachment inquiry

Mick Mulvaney. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

House committees leading the impeachment inquiry against President Trump subpoenaed acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney on Friday.

The big picture: This comes after nearly a month of White House refusals to comply with House investigations into whether Trump jeopardized national security by pressing Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 presidential election, and by withholding security assistance provided by Congress to help Ukraine, per the subpoena. The committees are demanding documents by Oct. 18.

Go deeperArrowOct 4, 2019

Trey Gowdy agrees to serve as outside counsel for Trump

Trey Gowdy conducts a House Oversight and Government Reform committee hearing in 2018. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

President Trump has asked former South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy to assist him with legal advice from outside the White House and Gowdy has agreed, though details are yet to be finalized, according to people familiar with the situation.

Where it stands: As the president faces an impeachment inquiry, Gowdy can offer Trump another opinion on where legal theory meets political reality, a person familiar told Axios' Margaret Talev, adding that his Benghazi experience is seen as an asset. Gowdy is expected to advise the White House behind the scenes and appear on TV to advocate on behalf of the president.

Go deeperArrowOct 9, 2019