Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the chairmen of three House committees on Tuesday that he had no intention of obeying subpoenas for documents and depositions by other State Department officials, a day before the deadline for responding to House Democrats' orders.
Pompeo told House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.), House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), and House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) that their subpoena for documents regarding President Donald Trump's communications with the Ukrainian government amounted to "bullying."
The subpoena "can be understood only as an attempt to 'intimidate, bully, and treat improperly, the distinguished professionals of the Department of State,'" wrote the secretary.
Pompeo's response amounted to an obstruction of House Democrats' impeachment inquiry, tweeted journalist Judd Legum.
The Trump administration is now actively obstructing the impeachment inquiry https://t.co/e9lC0wa9gx
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) October 1, 2019
The inquiry began last week after Democrats learned that Trump had asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate 2020 Democratic candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.
Pompeo was the first administration official to be subpoenaed. Rudy Guiliani, the president's lawyer, was issued a subpoena Monday to provide information about his alleged pressuring of Ukraine to investigate the Bidens.
Also on Monday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Pompeo—who for days had claimed to have little knowledge of Trump's call with Zelensky, as he had not yet read the transcript—was in fact on the phone call.
Pompeo is "in this up to his ears," tweeted journalist Lili Loofbourow.
REMINDER: Pompeo was ON THE PHONE CALL Trump made to Zelensky--which became grounds for the impeachment inquiry--but last week, before that was known, he claimed he couldn't comment because he hadn't "read the transcript." He's in this up to this ears. https://t.co/9wILxypyKv
— Lili Loofbourow (@Millicentsomer) October 1, 2019
Contrary to Pompeo's complaint, some critics said on social media, Pompeo's refusal to respond to elected representatives' demands amounted to the bullying of the American people.
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) October 1, 2019
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— Jon Cryer (@MrJonCryer) October 1, 2019
Some also noted the contrast between the Trump administration's response to Congress's demands regarding allegations that the president sought to bribe a foreign power to gain assistance winning the 2020 election, and that of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who spent 11 hours testifying about the deaths of four Americans in a 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya.
Pompeo, who was among the Republicans on a House select committee who aggressively questioned Clinton in 2015, is also continuing to investigate the former secretary of state amid developing news about Trump's impeachment inquiry.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: Sure I’ll testify for 11 hours. No problem.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: I will hide behind my staff forever even though I lied to you all and was on the call with Ukraine. https://t.co/iRUrN5mDBO
— Neera Tanden (@neeratanden) October 1, 2019
Benghazi: @HillaryClinton testified for 11 hours
— Chris Lu (@ChrisLu44) October 1, 2019
Pompeo was given until Friday, Oct. 4 to produce the documents requested by the committees. Former U.S. ambassador to the Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch was scheduled to give a deposition Wednesday, with other depositions by Kurt Volker, former envoy to Ukraine; Deputy Assistant Secretary George Kent; U.S. ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland; and State Department Counselor T. Ulrich Brechbuhl planned for the coming days.
Pompeo's apparent plan to direct the officials not to give depositions amounts to "blatant obstruction," one critic tweeted.
Secretary Pompeo has instructed his Department’s aides and officials not to comply with Congressional subpoenas.
This is blatant obstruction.
You’d think a man who once headed the CIA wouldn’t actually side with the President who was caught conspiring against the United States.
— Jordan Fisher (@jordanwfisher_) October 1, 2019