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House panels seek Ukraine docs from Pence for Trump impeachment inquiry

Three House committees conducting an impeachment inquiry asked Vice President Pence on Friday to turn over documents concerning his involvement in President Trump‘s efforts to pressure Ukraine into launching investigations into a political rival.

The House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight panels requested that Pence hand over the documents by Oct. 15.

“Recently, public reports have raised questions about any role you may have played in conveying or reinforcing the President’s stark message to the Ukrainian President,” the chairmen of the three committees wrote in a letter to Pence.

“Your failure or refusal to comply with the request, including at the direction of or behest of the president or the White House, shall constitute evidence of obstruction of justice of the House’s impeachment inquiry and may be used as an adverse inference against you and the president,” wrote House Intelligence Chairman Committee Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) and Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.).

The Washington Post reported earlier this week that Trump repeatedly involved Pence in his efforts to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to look into the business dealings of Hunter Biden, who served on the board of a Ukrainian energy company while his father Joe Biden was vice president.

According to the Post, Trump told Pence not to attend Zelensky’s inauguration in May and had Pence tell Zelensky that U.S. aid to Ukraine was being withheld while demanding more aggressive action on investigating corruption. Officials close to Pence told the Post that he was unaware of Trump’s efforts to dig up damaging information on the Bidens.

The Post also reported that Pence’s national security adviser, Keith Kellogg, had been monitoring the July 25 call between Trump and Zelensky in which the president called for a probe of the Bidens.

The committees are seeking all documents and communications relating to Trump’s April 21 and July 25 phone calls with Zelensky. They also asked Pence for documentation on meetings with former Ukraine special envoy Kurt Volker, who appeared before a closed-door deposition on Capitol Hill on Thursday, as well as with Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland and Ukrainian officials.

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.

The request for documents came a day after Trump publicly urged Ukraine and China to investigate Biden, which Pence defended.

“One of the main reasons we were elected to Washington, D.C., was to drain the swamp,” Pence told reporters on Thursday. “And I think the American people have a right to know if the vice president of the United States or his family profited from his position.”

Biden as vice president had pushed for Ukraine to oust its then-prosecutor general for failing to properly investigate corruption. The prosecutor general had at one point looked into Burisma, the energy company where Hunter Biden served on the board. There is no evidence either of the Bidens engaged in wrongdoing.

The committees’ request for documents is the latest in a series of document and witness demands as Democrats ramp up their impeachment inquiry.

Last week, the panels subpoenaed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for documents and requested depositions with current and former State Department officials, including Volker and Sondland.

They have also issued subpoenas to Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer who was involved in urging Ukrainian officials to investigate the Bidens.

And on Wednesday, the committees threatened to issue a subpoena to the White House if documents related to Trump exerting pressure on the Ukrainian government aren’t turned over by Friday.

The House Intelligence Committee is also conducting a closed-door briefing with the intelligence community inspector general about the preliminary review of a whistleblower complaint about Trump’s efforts to pressure the Ukrainian government to investigate the Bidens.

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