We are set for quite the battle on Capitol Hill this week, as President Trump’s administration wrestles with how best to treat a bevy of Democratic “impeachment” subpoenas.
The Democrats have refused to take a vote to authorize their “formal impeachment inquiry”, touched off by a whistleblower complaint regarding President Trump’s relationship with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Their hope is to keep this “formal” inquiry from being “official”, somehow, allowing them to play by whatever rules they conceive at any given time.
Donald Trump certainly understands this, and has given the left an ultimatum; vote on the inquiry, or there will be no cooperation from the White House.
This is where the showdown will truly take shape, and likely by the end of this week.
House Democrat leaders this week expect to receive documents linked to their impeachment probe from some of the most powerful officials in the Trump administration, including the vice president, the Pentagon chief, and the White House chief of staff.
White House counsel Pat Cipollone, however, told the House leaders conducting the impeachment probe it will not cooperate, dismissing the process as an effort to overturn the 2016 presidential elections.
The subpoenas were numerous and wide-ranging.
Democrat chairmen conducting the impeachment investigation have also issued subpoenas compelling Office of Management and Budget Acting Director Russell Vought (Tuesday), Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland (Thursday), and U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry (Friday), to provide documents by their respective deadlines this week.
House Democrats have also subpoenaed documents from people outside the administration. They gave Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, associates of Trump’s private lawyer Rudy Giuliani, an October 16 deadline to provide documents. Giuliani himself received a subpoena, demanding that he produce documents by Tuesday.
Last week, the White House made it clear in a letter to House Democrat leaders that it is not planning to cooperate with the impeachment probe. The White House has dismissed the process as an “illegitimate,” partisan,” and unfair effort to overturn the 2016 presidential election.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Mike Esper said over the weekend that he would cooperate with his subpoena. Esper, however, did not explicitly commit to honoring Tuesday’s deadline to provide documents.
“I don’t know the status of what that document preparation is, what restrictions we may have internally with regard to releasing them, the White House has a say on the release of documents as well,” he told Fox News Sunday‘s Chris Wallace.
VP Pence and Trump’s Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney have signaled they may not meet their deadline, which falls on Tuesday and Friday, respectively. Given that the president’s executive office houses the OMB, it is unlikely that Vought will comply with his deadline on Tuesday.
Democrats have warned that any attempt to “stonewall” their investigation by failing to comply with these subpoenas will result in the President and his administration being charged with “obstruction”, should the articles of impeachment ever be officially introduced.