On Friday, for the first time, the impeachment inquiry reached directly into the White House as Democrats subpoenaed officials about contacts with Ukraine and President Donald Trump signalled his administration would not cooperate.
The demand for documents capped a tumultuous week that widened the constitutional battle between the executive branch and Congress and sharpened the political standoff with more witnesses, testimony and documents to come.
Trump said he would formally object to Congress about the House impeachment inquiry, even as he acknowledged that Democrats “have the votes” to proceed. They’ll be sorry in the end, he predicted.
“I really believe that they’re going to pay a tremendous price at the polls,” Trump said.
But Democrats accused Trump of speeding down “a path of defiance, obstruction and cover-up” and warned that defying the House subpoena would in itself be considered “evidence of obstruction” and a potentially an impeachable offence.
“We deeply regret that President Trump has put us -- and the nation -- in this position, but his actions have left us with no choice,” wrote the three Democratic House chairmen, Reps. Elijah Cummings, Adam Schiff and Eliot Engel, in issuing Friday’s subpoena after White House resistance to the panel’s request for witnesses and documents.
In the letter accompanying the subpoena, the three chairmen agreed, stating, “Speaker Pelosi has confirmed that an impeachment inquiry is underway, and it is not for the White House to say otherwise.”
Pence spokeswoman Katie Waldman dismissed the demand, saying that given its wide scope, “it does not appear to be a serious request.”