Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday, Oct. 1, stated that House Democrats are trying to “intimidate, bully and treat improperly” five current and former career officials in demanding depositions providing Ukraine matter.
Pompeo said in a letter to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, as part of the chamber’s impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, that the requested dates for the officials to voluntarily appear are “not feasible.”
“I am concerned with aspects of your request,” Pompeo wrote to Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), chairman of the panel. “I will not tolerate such tactics, and I will use all means at my disposal to prevent and expose any attempts to intimidate the dedicated professionals.”
House investigators countered that it would be illegal for the secretary to try to protect Trump by preventing the officials from talking to Congress.
“Any effort to intimidate witnesses or prevent them from talking with Congress—including State Department employees—is illegal and will constitute evidence of obstruction of the impeachment inquiry,” said three House chairmen, Adam Schiff of the Intelligence Committee, Eliot Engel of Foreign Affairs, and Elijah Cummings of Oversight.
The panels are seeking documents from the State Department and voluntary testimony from the current and former officials.
“Your failure or refusal to comply with the subpoena shall constitute evidence of obstruction of the House’s impeachment inquiry,” wrote Engel and the other chairmen.
House Democrats launched an impeachment inquiry of Trump after a whistleblower’s disclosure of a July phone call with the Ukraine president.
President Trump didn’t use US military aid as lever
Ukraine’s president said Tuesday he dismissed suggestions that President Donald Trump froze the funding to pressure Ukraine to investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden.
“It is impossible to put pressure on me,” he told reporters Tuesday. “Many people try to influence me,” he said, but “I am the president of independent Ukraine.”
Zelenskiy said that in discussions with Trump, he repeatedly stressed the importance of U.S. military aid to help Ukraine battle Russian-backed separatists.
In the July call, he thanked Trump for his “great support in the area of defense” and said Ukraine was ready to “cooperate for the next steps,” according to a rough transcript released by the White House.
Includes reporting from the Associated Press