House Democrats on Monday subpoenaed the heads of the Defense Department and Office of Management and Budget for documents related to the Trump administration’s decision to withhold financial aid to Ukraine while the president pushed the allied nation for an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.
In letters to Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) acting director Russell Vought, the three committee chairmen leading the House’s impeachment inquiry asked for the documents to be provided by Oct. 15.
“The enclosed subpoena demands documents that are necessary for the committees to examine this sequence of these events and the reasons behind the White House’s decision to withhold critical military assistance to Ukraine that was appropriated by Congress to counter Russian aggression,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) and Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) wrote.
Congress had appropriated $250 million to the Defense Department for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative. But according to reports, President Trump asked Mick Mulvaney, currently the acting White House chief of staff, to put a hold on the Ukraine aid in July 2019.
Trump held a call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25 in which he urged an investigation into the Bidens and said he would instruct his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and Attorney General William Barr to follow up with the Ukrainian government.
The White House eventually released its hold on the aid around the date of Sept. 11, following multiple inquiries from members of Congress about why the aid was delayed.
The committee chairmen are demanding that Esper hand over documents related to Trump’s phone calls with the Ukrainian president and efforts by any current or former Trump administration officials to pressure the Ukrainian government to investigate the Bidens.
They are also seeking documents from both Esper and Vought on the delay of foreign assistance to Ukraine, including communications with people in the White House and other agencies, as well as the decision in September announcing that the aid would go forward. In addition, the committee chairmen are asking for documents related to communications with Congress about the status of the foreign aid, such as briefings and written notifications.
The House committee chairmen have issued three other subpoenas as part of the impeachment inquiry launched two weeks ago.
They have subpoenaed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Giuliani and Mulvaney for documents related to Trump’s conversations with Zelensky and the efforts to hold up the financial aid for Ukraine.
The committees also sent a letter on Friday to Vice President Pence asking for documents related to his role in Trump’s efforts to press for an investigation into the Bidens, but the request was not a subpoena.
The chairmen reiterated a threat to other subpoena recipients in recent days that failing to comply with their demands would be used as evidence of obstruction in potentially writing articles of impeachment.
“Your failure or refusal to comply with the subpoena, including at the direction or behest of the president or the White House, shall constitute evidence of obstruction of the House’s impeachment inquiry and may be used as an adverse inference against you and the president,” they wrote in the letters to Esper and Vought.
The three House committees are also conducting depositions this week with two State Department officials. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland is scheduled to appear on Tuesday, while former Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch is set to speak with lawmakers on Friday.
Updated at 1 p.m.