Democrats have subpoenaed Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani for documents as they ramped up investigations of the president’s dealings with Ukraine.
The House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight and Reform panels announced the subpoena as they examine Mr Trump’s efforts to persuade Ukraine to investigate political rival Joe Biden and his family. Mr Giuliani assisted in that effort.
The committees are investigating the matter, the subject of a now-public whistleblower’s complaint, as part of an impeachment inquiry endorsed by House speaker Nancy Pelosi last week.
They are moving rapidly with a goal of finishing the inquiry, and perhaps even voting on articles of impeachment, by the end of the year.
Mr Trump and Mr Giuliani have acknowledged efforts to influence Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate Hunter Biden’s membership on the board of a Ukrainian gas company at the same time his father was leading the Obama administration’s diplomatic dealings with Kiev.
There has been no evidence of wrongdoing by either of the Bidens.
The chairmen of the three committees noted that Mr Giuliani has acknowledged his efforts to pressure Ukrainian officials on national television.
“In addition to this stark admission, you stated more recently that you are in possession of evidence — in the form of text messages, phone records and other communications — indicating that you were not acting alone and that other Trump administration officials may have been involved in this scheme,” wrote House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff, Foreign Affairs chairman Eliot Engel and Oversight and Government Reform chairman Elijah Cummings.
NEW: Giuliani subpoenaed for Ukraine documents as next step in impeachment inquiry.— House Foreign Affairs Committee (@HouseForeign) September 30, 2019
Giuliani admitted he asked the UKR govt to target former VP Joe Biden & stated more recently that he is in possession of evidence indicating that he was not acting alone.https://t.co/YYKD12cwZV
A secret complaint from the whistleblower, whose name is not publicly known, detailed a July phone call between Mr Trump and Mr Zelenskiy in which the US leader urged the probe. It also revealed White House efforts to keep the conversation private.
The subpoena comes as Republican leader Mitch McConnell said Senate rules would require him to take up any articles of impeachment against Mr Trump if approved by the House, quashing talk that the Republican-controlled chamber could dodge the matter.
“I would have no choice but to take it up,” he said on CNBC, but added: “How long you’re on it is a whole different matter.”
If the House approves articles of impeachment — not introduced at this point — they would be sent to the Senate for trial. Mr McConnell suggested he does not have the 67 votes to change the rules, but the Kentucky Republican, the Senate’s chief strategist, left open what he means by taking up the issue.
Mr Schiff said on Sunday that the Intelligence Committee would hear from the still-secret whistleblower “very soon”, but that no date had been set and other details remained to be worked out.