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Democrats to subpoena White House for Ukraine documents

Oversight and Reform Committee chairman Elijah Cummings has written to the White House.

Donald Trump (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Donald Trump (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

By Matthew Lee, Lisa Mascaro, Mary Clare Jalonick and Jonathan Lemire, Associated Press

Democrats pursuing an impeachment inquiry of Donald Trump say they will subpoena the White House for documents related to his dealings with Ukraine, citing “flagrant disregard” of their previous requests for information.

House of Representatives Oversight and Reform Committee chairman Elijah Cummings wrote in a memo to panel members that the action is necessary because the White House has ignored multiple requests.

Given the “stark and urgent warnings” the inspector general for the intelligence community has delivered to Congress, Mr Cummings said, the panel has “no choice but to issue this subpoena”.

The subpoena is directed towards acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. It requests 13 separate batches of documents related to a July phone call Mr Trump had with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and related matters.

The Oversight panel will issue the subpoena on Friday in co-ordination with the House Intelligence and Foreign Affairs committees, Mr Cummings said.

The action came as House and Senate staff prepared for an “urgent” meeting with the State Department’s inspector general on Wednesday.

An invitation said only that the inspector general, Steve Linick, “would like to discuss and provide staff with copies of documents related to the State Department and Ukraine”.

The documents were obtained from the State Department’s acting legal adviser, according to the email.

Secretary of state Mike Pompeo acknowledged on Wednesday he was on the phone call between Mr Trump and Mr Zelenskiy that is at the centre of the impeachment inquiry.

He said that as America’s chief diplomat he is well-versed in US policy towards Ukraine, but continued to push back against what he said was Democrats’ “bullying and intimidation”.

The Trump administration has set a defiant tone, resisting Congress’s access to witnesses, even as House Democrats warn such efforts themselves could amount to an impeachable offence.

Democrats have scheduled closed-door depositions on Thursday with former special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker and next week with ousted US ambassador Marie Yovanovitch.

Meanwhile, House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff said Mr Trump’s tweets about the whistleblower behind the revelations about the Ukraine phone call amount to a “blatant effort to intimidate witnesses” and an “incitement to violence”.

Mr Trump said he was trying to unmask the whistleblower whose complaint about his efforts to pressure Ukraine sparked the impeachment inquiry. The president has falsely raised the prospect that officials involved are guilty of treason.

Mr Schiff, speaking at a news conference, said any effort by the Trump administration to block the investigation would be considered more evidence of obstruction and perhaps generate more articles of impeachment.

PA

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