U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, President Donald Trump’s private lawyer Rudy Giuliani, and Russell Vought, the acting director of the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), defied Tuesday’s deadline for an impeachment inquiry subpoena issued by House Democrats.
The subpoenas demanded that Pence, Giuliani, and Vought release documents linked to the impeachment probe by Tuesday.
An allegation that Trump attempted to coerce Ukraine into investigating Joe Biden and his son Hunter by withholding aid is at the center of the impeachment probe.
Pence, Giuliani, and Vought’s refusal to comply with the subpoenas comes as no surprise.
Last week, the White House sent a letter to House Democrat letters saying it would not cooperate.
The White House deemed the impeachment inquiry “illegitimate,” “partisan,” and unfair. OMB is a component of the White House.
Echoing the White House message, the VP, Trump’s private lawyer, and the OMB Director sent letters to House Democrats announcing that they would not respect Tuesday’s deadline for them to hand over documents.
The counsel for Vice President Mike Pence sent a letter to the chairmen of the House committees investigating President Trump and Ukraine on Tuesday informing them that he will not cooperate with a request for documents in their “self-proclaimed” impeachment inquiry.
Matthew Morgan, a counsel to the vice president, reportedly wrote:
As noted in the October 8, 2019 letter from the White House Counsel to each of you and to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the purported “impeachment inquiry” has been designed and implemented in a manner that calls into question your commitment to fundamental fairness and due process rights.
Never before in history has the Speaker of the House attempted to launch an “impeachment inquiry” against a President without a majority of the House of Representatives voting to authorize a constitutionally acceptable process.
Morgan cited executive privilege as one of the reasons for defying the subpoena.
On Tuesday, Giuliani wrote on Twitter:
I will not participate in an illegitimate, unconstitutional, and baseless “impeachment inquiry.” Jon Sale, who is a lifelong friend, has represented me for the sole purpose of analyzing the request and responding. At this time, I do not need a lawyer.
I will not participate in an illegitimate, unconstitutional, and baseless “impeachment inquiry.”
Jon Sale, who is a lifelong friend, has represented me for the sole purpose of analyzing the request and responding. At this time, I do not need a lawyer. pic.twitter.com/l0IR0ikEHD
— Rudy Giuliani (@RudyGiuliani) October 15, 2019
Sale sent a letter to House Democrat investigators announcing Giuliani’s decision to defy the subpoena.
Echoing the White House, the letter declared:
Giuliani will not participate because this appears to be an unconstitutional, baseless, and illegitimate “impeachment inquiry”.
In addition, the subpoena is overbroad, unduly burdensome, and seeks documents beyond the scope of legitimate inquiry. Moreover, documents sought in the subpoena are protected by attorney-client, attorney work-product, and executive privileges.
Giuliani “adopts all the positions set forth” in the White House letter from last week, Sale wrote.
On Tuesday, the White House budget office also sent a letter to House Democrats announcing that the OMB director would not comply with the subpoena.
Citing the letter, the Washington Examiner reported:
The budget office attacks the Democratic inquiry as illegitimate in a written rebuttal, the content of which was first reported by the Washington Examiner.
In a letter sent to the House Intelligence Committee Tuesday evening, the office cites the lack of a vote to begin an impeachment inquiry, longstanding privileges shielding executive branch documents, and the vagueness of the Democratic subpoena.
OMB reportedly said in the letter:
The House of Representatives has yet to authorize such an inquiry. The Supreme Court has long held that the first step in assessing the validity of a subpoena from a congressional committee is determining ‘whether the committee was authorized’ to issue the subpoena, which requires ‘constru[ing] the scope of the authority which the House of Representatives gave to’ the committee.
So far, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has refused to hold a floor vote to authorize the impeachment probe, arguing that the Constitution does not require her to.
House Democrat leaders warned Giuliani and the OMB director against not complying with the subpoena, saying it would amount to “obstruction.”
Echoing the warning for Giuliani and Vought, the Democrats warned Pence in the subpoena letter:
Failure or refusal to comply with the subpoena, including at the direction or behest of the President or the White House, shall constitute evidence of obstruction of the House’s impeachment inquiry and may be used as an adverse inference against you and the President.
The White House budget office responded to the threat in its letter announcing Vought’s refusal to cooperate, saying:
OMB objects to this extraordinary threat. Invoking reasonable legal defenses to a subpoena, including invoking privileges that are held by the President, in no way manifests evidence of obstruction or otherwise warrants an adverse inference. Indeed, the very idea that reasonably asserting legal rights is itself evidence of wrongdoing turns fundamental notions of fairness on their head and is inconsistent with the rule of law.
Schiff has stressed that Democrats are considering using the power of inherent contempt to fine Trump officials who defy subpoenas $25,000 a day.
The Democrat-led House Committees on Oversight and Reform, Intelligence, and Foreign Affairs are pursuing the impeachment probe.