U.S. Democrats in the House of Representatives have sent a subpoena to the White House for documents related to their impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump.
The heads of three House committees said in a statement Friday that the subpoena is necessary because the White House “refused to engage with — or even respond to — multiple requests for documents from our Committees on a voluntary basis.”
House investigators Friday also sent an extensive request for documents to Vice President Mike Pence about his contacts with Ukraine, citing reports that a Pence aid may have listened to the July phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy that is at the center of the impeachment investigation.
Earlier Friday, Trump asserted that he has a constitutional duty to fight corruption, in his latest remarks explaining his requests to foreign governments to investigate his political opponents.
“This is not about politics. This is about corruption. If you look and you read our Constitution and many other things, I have an obligation to look at corruption. I have an actual obligation and a duty,” Trump said to reporters Friday at the White House.
At the heart of the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry in the House of Representatives, which the opposition party controls, is what the intelligence committee’s chairman, Adam Schiff, describes as “a damning call in which the president pressured a foreign power to investigate a political rival, harming national security.”
It comes down to this.
We’ve cut through the denials. The deflections. The nonsense.
Donald Trump believes he can pressure a foreign nation to help him politically. It’s his “right.”
Every Republican in Congress has to decide: Is he right? https://t.co/DpftzJ0ydN
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) October 4, 2019
In a significant development, Republican Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, weighed in.
When the only American citizen President Trump singles out for China’s investigation is his political opponent in the midst of the Democratic nomination process, it strains credulity to suggest that it is anything other than politically motivated.
— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) October 4, 2019
Romney, himself a former Republican Party nominee for president, is the first senator of his party to directly criticize Trump’s actions.
It would take 20 Republicans in the Senate to join all of their Democratic colleagues, plus the two independents who reliably vote with the Democrats to remove the president from office following any impeachment in the House.
Trump said Friday that while Democrats “unfortunately have the votes” in the House to impeach him, he predicts he will “win” in any subsequent trial in the Republican-led Senate.
Trump again reiterated Friday that no pressure was exerted during the July 25 call with Ukraine’s president.
Urging China, Ukraine to investigate
The president, however, told reporters Thursday he would like both Ukraine and China to investigate ties between their countries and the son of former Vice President Biden, a leading Democrat running for president.
Democrats say those statements clearly give them grounds for impeachment and demonstrate Trump is openly abusing the power of his office by asking foreign governments to do his personal political bidding.
“I don’t care about Biden’s campaign,” Trump stressed Friday. “This is about corruption.”
Senior U.S. diplomats urged Zelenskiy to launch an investigation sought by Trump into Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, according to text messages released Thursday by U.S. congressional investigators.
House Democratic investigators released the messages after interviewing former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker on Thursday for nearly 10 hours.
The texts reveal a discussion between Volker and two other U.S. diplomats about how to handle Trump’s requests to investigate Biden and his son.
One exchange shows Volker writing to a top Zelenskiy aide, promising the newly elected Ukrainian president a visit to the White House in exchange for the probe.
Trump pressed Zelenskiy for an investigation during the phone call that sparked a formal complaint, reportedly by a Central Intelligence Agency officer who had been assigned to the National Security Council. The complaint eventually triggered the House impeachment investigation into Trump.
The president has accused Biden of abusing his power by pressuring Ukraine to back away from a criminal investigation that could have implicated his son.
Trump and his allies have not released any evidence demonstrating the Bidens’ were involved in any illegal activity and the former vice president has vociferously defended his reputation in recent days.