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Pence's office denies Schiff request to declassify call with Ukrainian leader

 Pence's office denies Schiff request to declassify call with Ukrainian leader
© Greg Nash

Vice President Pence's counsel refused to release further information on the vice president's call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, according to a letter obtained by The Hill.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffMedia and Hollywood should stop their marching-to-Georgia talk Top cybersecurity official ousted by Trump Devin Nunes fends off Democratic opponent in California MORE (D-Calif.) requested last week that Pence declassify the contents of his Sept. 18 call with Zelensky. Jennifer Williams, a career foreign service officer and Pence staffer, testified about the call last month, but later told lawmakers that the specific details of the conversation were classified.

Pence's office denied that the vice president discussed any of the investigations at the center of the impeachment inquiry into President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden to nominate Linda Thomas-Greenfield for UN ambassador: reports Scranton dedicates 'Joe Biden Way' to honor president-elect Kasich: Republicans 'either in complete lockstep' or 'afraid' of Trump MORE's dealings with Ukraine. House lawmakers have alleged in the impeachment inquiry that the president withheld millions in military aid to Ukraine in an effort to pressure Kyiv into launching investigations that would benefit him politically.

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"While the contents of a classified call with a foreign head of state should never have been discussed in an unclassified Committee hearing or an unclassified deposition, it is clear from public testimony that the Vice President never raised the Bidens, Burisma, or Crowdstrike in his conversation with President Zelensky," Pence's office said in the letter, signed by Matthew Morgan, counsel to the vice president. 

"As you well know, a witness answered your direct question that the Vice President never raised those investigations," the letter continues. "As such, the request to declassify and release another world leader transcript serves no purpose."

Williams’s attorney told the Intelligence Committee after her testimony that she “reviewed certain materials that cause her [to] recall additional information” about the call, but Pence’s office later informed her that the new information was classified.

She later provided a classified written submission regarding the call. 

Pence's Wednesday letter also criticized Schiff over the report the Intelligence Committee released last week on its ongoing investigation into Trump. The report states that the "Committee has requested that the Office of the Vice President conduct a declassification review," but the letter from Pence's office claims that the request was not made until three days after the Committee voted to approve the report. 

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"This once again again illustrates the Committee's lack of commitment to fundamental fairness and due process," the letter states.  

"The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence has already voted out its partisan Report and transmitted it to the House Judiciary Committee," it continues. "Your request, coming after the completion of your Report, serves no legitimate legislative or impeachment inquiry purpose."

In Schiff's initial letter requesting that Pence declassify the September call, he cited the vice president as saying that he has "no objection at all" to the release of information about his contact with the Ukrainian leader. 

“Your willingness to release the transcript of your calls with President Zelensky necessarily means that you do not believe there is anything contained therein that would cause any harm to U.S. national security if publicly disclosed,” Schiff wrote.

Olivia Beavers contributed to this report.