House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said Wednesday that efforts by the Trump administration to stymie the House’s impeachment inquiry will be taken as evidence of obstruction of justice.
“We are concerned that the White House will attempt to stonewall our investigation,” Schiff said during a joint press conference with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
“Any action like that, that forces us to litigate, or have to consider litigation, will be considered further evidence of obstruction of justice.”
House Democrats formally launched an impeachment inquiry last week after details emerged of a phone call in which Trump pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, a leading 2020 presidential candidate, and Biden’s son, Hunter Biden.
Attention was brought to the July 25 conversation by a whistleblower complaint from within the intelligence community that was released to the public last week.
Democratic committee chairs have requested a series of documents and depositions from current and former members of the Trump administration related to dealings with Ukraine since the formal launch of the impeachment inquiry.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned Tuesday, however, that officials at his agency would not show up for scheduled depositions with House investigators.
Schiff on Wednesday said that those kind of efforts to block the investigations would be interpreted as confirming the allegations in the complaint.
“We will also draw the inference, though, as appropriate, that they are trying to conceal facts that would corroborate the allegations in the whistleblower complaint,” he said.
But Schiff also left open the possibility of avoiding court battles with the White House.
“We’ll have to decide whether to litigate, or how to litigate,” he said. “We’re not fooling around here though, we don’t want this to drag on months and months and months, which appears to be the administration’s strategy.”
House Democrats earlier Wednesday threatened to subpoena the White House for documents if they do not get requested information.
Shortly after Schiff’s comments, Trump called the California Democrat a “lowlife” in a tweet, adding that he would be lucky to have Pompeo’s “brains, honor and strength.”
Adam Schiff should only be so lucky to have the brains, honor and strength of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. For a lowlife like Schiff, who completely fabricated my words and read them to Congress as though they were said by me, to demean a First in Class at West Point, is SAD!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 2, 2019
Trump previously said Schiff should resign for paraphrasing a transcript of the president’s call with Ukraine’s leader.
–Updated at 12:05 p.m.