White House, Pentagon, Giuliani reject House subpoenas

The White House, the Pentagon and President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says his advice to impeachment defense team is 'just be honest' Trump expands tariffs on steel and aluminum imports CNN's Axelrod says impeachment didn't come up until 80 minutes into focus group MORE's personal attorney Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiParnas says he has turned over tape of Trump calling for diplomat's firing Pompeo explodes at NPR reporter, asks if she could find Ukraine on a map ABC: Recording apparently captures Trump discussing Yovanovitch ouster with Parnas, Fruman MORE on Tuesday all refused to comply with House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry subpoenas, escalating the fight between the administration and Democratic lawmakers.

Democrats set a Tuesday deadline for Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperOvernight Defense: Veterans group seeks Trump apology for comments on brain injuries | Pentagon says dozens of troops suffered traumatic injuries after attack | Trump unveils Space Force logo Commerce Department withdraws Huawei rule after Pentagon pushback: reports  Dozens of US troops suffered traumatic brain injuries after Iran missile strikes MORE, Giuliani and the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to turn over documents related to Ukraine.

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Three House committees also requested Vice President Pence hand over documents by Tuesday, though no subpoena had been issued.

The refusals from top administration officials were unsurprising after the White House counsel's office sent a letter to top Democrats last week making clear that the administration would refuse to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry.

Matthew Morgan, counsel to the vice president, wrote in a letter to the three committee chairmen that Pence would not comply with their request, citing the lack of a vote establishing formal procedures for the impeachment inquiry and questioning the fairness of the process.

A letter from Giuliani's lawyer to the House Intelligence Committee dismissed the subpoena, saying it is "overbroad, unduly burdensome, and seeks documents beyond the scope of legitimate inquiry."

The Pentagon said in a letter to the three committee leaders that it has taken steps to identify and preserve potentially relevant documents, but that the subpoena “raises a number of legal and practical concerns" and the department would not comply “at this time.”

A senior administration official said that OMB and acting Director Russ Vought "are not participating in the sham impeachment process."

House Democrats could move to hold those defying the subpoenas in contempt, though it is unlikely the Justice Department would prosecute them.

Democrats are leading an impeachment inquiry into whether Trump abused his office when he urged Ukraine to look into Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenSchiff closes Democrats' impeachment arguments with emotional appeal to remove Trump Conservative reporter on Sanders: He's not a 'yes man' Democrats feel political momentum swinging to them on impeachment MORE during a July 25 phone call with the Ukrainian president.

As part of the investigation, the Oversight and Reform, Intelligence and Foreign Affairs committees are seeking documents and communications among administration officials related to the call, as well as documents pertaining to the administration's handling of military aid for Ukraine.

White House counsel Pat Cipollone wrote in a letter to Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiCNN's Axelrod says impeachment didn't come up until 80 minutes into focus group On The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Social Security emerges as flash point in Biden-Sanders fight | Dems urge Supreme Court to save consumer agency | Trump to sign USMCA next week Veronica Escobar to give Spanish-language response to Trump State of the Union address MORE (D-Calif.) last week that the administration would refuse to cooperate with requests for documents and communications, decrying the impeachment inquiry as an "invalid" effort to "overturn the results of the 2016 election."

Cipollone argued in his letter that the House had yet to hold a vote on the impeachment inquiry and therefore the White House did not have to comply with their requests. 

It's unclear whether such a vote would change the White House's stance. Trump has said he would cooperate if the established rules for the investigation were "fair."

Democrats have also issued subpoenas to Energy Secretary Rick PerryRick PerryTrump: Senate should decide on witnesses; Bolton testimony poses national security risk Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers gear up for Senate impeachment trial Parnas pressure grows on Senate GOP MORE and indicted Giuliani associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman as part of their investigation.

In recent days, a host of current and former administration officials have testified privately to the House committees leading the impeachment inquiry, alleging that Giuliani and others were conducting a shadow influence campaign in Ukraine that undermined official channels.