Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesday rejected House Democrats’ request for documents pertaining to President Donald Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, setting up the potential that House Democrats will subpoena him for the documents.
In a letter to the chairmen of the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees, Pence counsel Matthew Morgan called the request part of a “self-proclaimed impeachment inquiry,” noting that the House of Representatives has not yet taken a formal vote to open an impeachment inquiry. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has maintained that the constitution does not require a formal House vote to launch an impeachment inquiry.
“Never before in history has the Speaker of the House attempted to launch an ‘impeachment inquiry’ against a president without the majority of the House of Representatives voting to authorize a constitutionally acceptable process,” the letter says.
Those chairmen sent Pence a request on Oct. 4 asking for documents and communications pertaining to the July phone call and the withholding of military and security aid to Ukraine.
Morgan also asserted that the request was part of a process that “has been designed and implemented in a manner that calls into question your commitment to fundamental fairness and due process rights.”
The letter continues: “Please know that if the Committees wish to return to the regular order of legitimate legislative oversight requests, and the Committees have appropriate requests for information solely in the custody of the Office of the Vice President, we are prepared to work with you in a manner consistent with well-established bipartisan constitutional protections and a respect for separation of powers.”
Morgan wrote that Pence would assert his right to protect documents that fall under executive privilege, matters of national security and communications with the president.
Pence’s refusal to turn over documents comes as Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, and Office of Management and Budget Director Russell Vought refused to comply with subpoenas for documents.
Asked Tuesday if he still stands by his 20-year-old statement that refusing to comply with congressional subpoenas was an impeachable offense, GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham said he did.
“20 years ago, you said not complying with a subpoena was an impeachable offense,” asked CNN’s Lauren Fox.
“Nothing’s changed,” Graham responded.