House Democrats on Monday subpoenaed Defense Secretary Mark Esper and acting White House budget director Russell Vought for documents pertaining to the impeachment inquiry into President Trump.
The inquiry focuses on a July phone conversation between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which Trump urged the Ukrainian premier to conduct an investigation into the business dealings of Hunter Biden, son of presidential candidate Joe Biden. Over a week before that conversation, Trump ordered the State Department and Pentagon to withhold a $391 military aid package destined for Ukraine.
Democrats have alleged Trump used the aid to pressure Zelensky into conducting an investigation that would damage Trump’s political rival.
The chairmen of the House Intelligence, Oversight, and Foreign Affairs committees, who are leading the investigation, sent letters to Esper and Vought in which they demanded the officials turn over documents relating to the decision to withhold aid from Ukraine.
“The enclosed subpoena demands documents that are necessary for the committees to examine…the reasons behind the White House’s decision to withhold critical military assistance to Ukraine that was appropriated by Congress to counter Russian aggression,” committee heads Adam Schiff (D., Calif.), Eliot Engel (D., N.Y.), and Elijah Cummings (D., Md.) wrote.
Cummings on Friday threatened to subpoena the White House for documents related to the impeachment inquiry if the White House did not comply with requests for the documents.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday rebuffed attempts by the committee heads to subpoena officials and documents from the State Department. The committee heads had requested five State Department officials to appear before the panels within a two week time frame, or they would consider the State Department to be obstructing justice. Pompeo dismissed the requests as “bullying” and intimidation, further charging that the requests had “significant legal and procedural concerns.”