Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused House Democrats on Tuesday of trying “to intimidate” and “bully” by issuing a subpoena for witness testimony and documents relating to an impeachment inquiry over President Trump’s call with Ukraine, reports The Washington Post.
In his letter to House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.), Pompeo said State Department officials scheduled to appear this week before committees conducting the impeachment inquiry would not be made available until “we obtain further clarity on these matters.”
He described the demand for depositions by five officials who played a role in U.S. relations with Ukraine as “an attempt to intimidate, bully, and treat improperly, the distinguished professionals of the Department of State.”
Pompeo said the committee’s demand for testimony this week raised “significant legal and procedural concerns” and questioned the panel’s authority to compel an appearance by officials for a deposition by the letters sent last week.
“I’m concerned with aspects of your request that can be understood only as an attempt to intimidate, bully, & treat improperly the distinguished professionals of the Department of State, including several career Foreign Service Officers,” Pompeo wrote.
“Let me be clear: 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 whom I am proud to lead and serve alongside at the Department of State,” he added.
Pompeo said the committee had not sent subpoenas for their appearances or noticed the deposition to the department in accordance with House rules.
He also said the committee provided a “woefully inadequate opportunity for the Department and the requested witnesses to prepare.”
The depositions requested by the committee last week had been scheduled for Oct. 2, 3, 7, 8 and 10.
Pompeo also accused the committee of trying to prevent State Department counsel from participating in the depositions.
“This amounts to an attempt to circumvent the Executive Branch’s unquestionably legitimate constitutional interest in protecting potentially privileged information related to the conduct of diplomatic relations,” Pompeo wrote.
“Therefore, the five officials subject to your letter may not attend any interview or deposition without counsel from the Executive Branch present to ensure that the Executive Branch’s constitutional authority to control the disclosure of confidential information, including deliberative matters and diplomatic communications, is not impaired,” he continued.
The statements came as reports surfaced this week that he was a participant in the July 25 call by President Trump to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, which led to the impeachment investigation.