congress

Democrats slap Pentagon, OMB with subpoenas for impeachment inquiry

Key committee chairmen are demanding documents on Trump's decision to withhold aid to Ukraine as he sought an investigation into a political rival.

Adam Schiff

House Democrats on Monday issued subpoenas for documents from the Pentagon and White House budget office as part of their rapidly expanding impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.

The subpoenas, which demand documents by Oct. 15, are intended to unearth details of the administration's decision to freeze military aid to Ukraine in July — a move that came as Trump and his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, were pressuring Ukraine's new president to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden.

Democrats are demanding that Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and acting Office of Management and Budget Director Russ Vought produce any documents related to efforts by Trump or administration officials to push Ukraine to investigate Biden and to withhold military aid in the process. The subpoenas seek records related to Trump's July 25 call with Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, and whether Trump associates inside and outside the administration played a role in leaning on American officials.

"The enclosed subpoena demands documents that are necessary for the Committees to examine this sequence of these events and the reasons behind the White House’s decision to withhold critical military assistance to Ukraine that was appropriated by Congress to counter Russian aggression,” Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel and Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings wrote in letters to Esper and Vought.

The Pentagon and Office of Management and Budget join a slew of other agencies and senior administration figures subpoenaed by three House committees as they move closer to recommending articles of impeachment against Trump for soliciting foreign intervention against a political rival in the 2020 election.

Trump has publicly called on Ukraine and China to investigate Biden, further fueling outrage after reports that he had private conversations with foreign leaders with similar requests.

Democrats have also asked Vice President Mike Pence's office for documents connected to his own interactions with Ukraine, and they've subpoenaed Giuliani, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the White House for records as well.

On Tuesday, the House Intelligence Committee is slated to hear from another key player: Ambassador Gordon Sondland, Trump's representative to the European Union.

Sondland's text messages with other diplomats indicated that a White House visit and military aid to Ukraine may have been contingent on Zelensky authorizing an investigation of Biden. Two Giuliani associates and a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine — removed by Trump in the spring reportedly at Giuliani's behest — are slated to testify this week too.

Kurt Volker, who was Trump's representative to Ukraine until he recently resigned his position, testified last week behind closed doors to the Intelligence Committee and was the one who provided the text messages with Sondland.