Pence rejects Democratic request for documents

Vice President Pence on Tuesday rejected a request from House Democrats for documents pertaining to Ukraine as part of an ongoing impeachment inquiry into President TrumpDonald John TrumpStates slashed 4,400 environmental agency jobs in past decade: study Biden hammers Trump over video of world leaders mocking him Iran building hidden arsenal of short-range ballistic missiles in Iraq: report MORE.

Matthew Morgan, counsel to the vice president, wrote in a letter to the chairmen of the House Oversight, Intelligence and Foreign Affairs Committees that the request lacked standing due to the absence of a formal vote to launch impeachment proceedings.

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Morgan argued that the impeachment inquiry "has been designed and implemented in a manner that calls into question your commitment to fundamental fairness and due process rights."

He wrote that Pence's office is prepared to work with the committees if Democrats "return to the regular order of legitimate legislative oversight requests."

In the meantime, Pence would assert his right to protect documents that fall under executive privilege, matters of national security and communications with the president, Morgan wrote.

Pence's refusal to cooperate sets up the potential that House Democrats will subpoena him for the documents.

The rejection by Pence's office is unsurprising given his spokeswoman called the original request for documents unserious and partisan. The White House counsel also sent a letter to top Democrats last week stating that the administration would not cooperate with the impeachment inquiry.

The House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight panels sent their request to Pence on Oct. 4 seeking documents concerning his involvement in President Trump's efforts to pressure Ukraine into launching investigations into a political rival.

A whistleblower complaint alleged that Trump directed Pence not to attend Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's inauguration until he could gauge how cooperative Zelensky would be.

The committees further asked for documents related to Pence's call with Zelensky on Sept. 18, and anything he knew about withholding aid from Ukraine.