Politics

House panels subpoena Secretary of State Pompeo for documents related to Trump impeachment probe

Key Points
  • Three House committees have subpoenaed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for documents related to the chamber's impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. 
  • They raised questions about the State Department's involvement in efforts to get the Ukrainian government to investigate the Biden family. 
  • The committee heads also said they have scheduled depositions with five State Department officials. 
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a press conference on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly on September 26, 2019 in New York City.
Drew Angerer | Getty Images

Three House committees have subpoenaed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for documents related to the Ukraine probe at the center of the chamber's impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.

In a letter to the top U.S. diplomat dated Friday, the heads of the House Foreign Affairs, Oversight and Intelligence committees requested relevant documents by Oct. 4. Democratic Reps. Eliot Engel, Elijah Cummings and Adam Schiff wrote that they sought the records as they investigate "the extent to which President Trump jeopardized national security by pressing Ukraine to interfere with our 2020 election and by withholding security assistance provided by Congress to help Ukraine counter Russian aggression."

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The committee heads said they sent a separate letter to Pompeo alerting him that they have scheduled depositions for five state department officials over the next two weeks. Those officials are:

  • Former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch
  • Special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker
  • Deputy Assistant Secretary George Kent
  • Counselor of the State Department T. Ulrich Brechbuhl
  • U.S. Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland

The State Department did not immediately respond to CNBC's request to comment.

The subpoena to Pompeo caps a week of heightened scrutiny of the Trump administration after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the start of an impeachment inquiry into the president on Tuesday. The Democratic-held chamber has focused on Trump's efforts to get the Ukrainian government to investigate Hunter Biden, son of Joe Biden, a former vice president and one of Trump's chief rivals for the presidency in 2020.

Earlier, Democratic Reps. John Yarmuth and Nita Lowey — the heads of the House Budget and Appropriations committees, respectively — urged the White House to release documents on the Office of Management and Budget's involvement in the administration holding back nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine. Some lawmakers have questioned whether Trump in any way tied the funds to a probe of the Bidens. The White House says a summary of Trump's July call with Ukraine's president, which it released this week, shows Trump did not do so.

The three House committee heads said they wrote to Pompeo twice in September requesting documents, but he refused to send them. They called the lack of response from the State Department "all the more troubling" because information revealed this week in a whistleblower complaint, and in public comments from the president's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, suggested the involvement of State Department officials in efforts to get the Ukrainian government to investigate the Bidens.

The lawmakers cited Volker's role in setting up meetings between Giuliani and representatives of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. They also pointed to allegations in the whistleblower complaint that State Department officials spoke to both Giuliani and the Ukrainian government to manage the attorney's overtures to Ukraine.

This week, Giuliani also suggested the State Department asked him to talk to Ukrainian officials. The president's lawyer also shared an apparent July text message from Volker in which the envoy introduced Giuliani to a person who is "very close" to Zelensky.

Engel, Cummings and Schiff wrote that Pompeo's "failure or refusal to comply with the subpoena shall constitute evidence of obstruction of the House's impeachment inquiry."

They added that their committees "are conducting this investigation in an expeditious, coordinated manner."

After resisting calls by some in her caucus to start impeachment proceedings against Trump, Pelosi relented as the details about the president's conduct related to Ukraine started to emerge. A wave of House Democrats came out in support of some action on impeachment this week. At least 225 members now back some kind of inquiry into the president, making up a majority of the House.

The whistleblower complaint alleges that Trump not only tried to get Zelensky to investigate the Biden family during their July call, but also that the White House tried to "lock down" records of the interaction. Pelosi has said the House will focus its impeachment probe just on whether the president abused his power or compromised national security through his actions related to Ukraine.

— CNBC's Kevin Breuninger contributed to this report