Schiff Lays Out Impeachment Progress
Rep. Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, wanted other lawmakers to know that he'd been busy over the October break, ramping up the impeachment probe of President Trump.
He did that in a letter to colleagues, recounting something of a scorecard of subpoenas issued by the committee, working with the Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees. Among them were Friday's deposition witness, former Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch;
Secretary of Energy Rick Perry; Rudy Giuliani associates Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas; the White House, the Office of Management and Budget, the Department of Defense, and the State Department.
Perhaps his key point is that this is headed somewhere, whether the White House cooperates or not. (Yovanovitch would have come without the summons, but the administration told her not to show up, so she was served.)
"The White House’s attempt to stonewall is lawless, and as we have stated from the outset, efforts to hide the truth of the President’s abuse of power will be considered as evidence of obstruction of the impeachment inquiry and also an adverse inference may be drawn against the President on the underlying allegations of corruption and its cover up," Schiff said in the missive.
He also previewed who is coming up on the deposition front: "Dr. Fiona Hill, former Senior Director on the National Security Council for European and Russian Affairs, who left the White House in August 2019; Deputy Assistant Secretary George Kent; Ambassador Gordon Sondland; and State Department Counselor T. Ulrich Brechbuhl."
The people on the list are likely to be harder to get in, since they are closer to the political side, although Sondland, who was part of the conversations with Ukraine officials about withheld aid and the Bidens, has relented from his earlier refusal to show, and said he will comply.
Here is the whole letter:
As the House prepares to return from recess, I wanted to share an update on the work done over the past two weeks by the Intelligence Committee, along with Chairman Cummings and Chairman Engel. We have been working urgently and with purpose, and we are making substantial progress.
We have sought documents and testimony relevant to our investigation from a long list of individuals and agencies. Yesterday, we subpoenaed Secretary of Energy Rick Perry. The Committees also subpoenaed Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas, two businessmen who worked closely with Rudy Giuliani and who reportedly assisted in his efforts to pressure Ukraine to undertake an investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son. Mr. Fruman and Mr. Parnas were arrested this week for campaign finance violations.
We have also subpoenaed the White House, the Office of Management and Budget, the Department of Defense, and the State Department for relevant records related to the President’s efforts to solicit political support from the Ukrainian government, and the President’s decision to withhold critical military assistance to Ukraine.
Last week, the three committees also heard testimony from Ambassador Kurt Volker, who resigned last month from his post as the Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations. In addition to speaking to the committees, Mr. Volker provided text messages that showed a weeks-long effort by State Department officials – before and after the President’s July 25 call – to get the new Ukrainian president to publicly announce investigations that President Trump likely hoped would help him politically. Another ambassador on the text chain sought to clarify whether the White House policy was to condition a summit in Washington and, later, critical security assistance based on just that political help.
We have anticipated from the outset of this investigation that the White House would fall back on political attacks or nonsensical legal arguments to distract from the President’s misconduct. And true to form, on Wednesday the White House counsel sent a letter to Speaker Pelosi, stating that the Administration would refuse to comply with the House’s impeachment inquiry, and would not provide documents sought by the House or allow witnesses to testify.
The White House’s letter made no meaningful legal arguments for its position, and instead conveyed little more than a stream of political invective. The White House’s attempt to stonewall is lawless, and as we have stated from the outset, efforts to hide the truth of the President’s abuse of power will be considered as evidence of obstruction of the impeachment inquiry and also an adverse inference may be drawn against the President on the underlying allegations of corruption and its cover up.
Today, notwithstanding the White House’s efforts to stonewall the inquiry, we are hearing testimony from Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, the former Ambassador to Ukraine who was removed from that post by President Trump in May 2019. We learned last night that Ambassador Yovanovitch was instructed by the State Department not to appear, and consequently she was issued a subpoena to compel her testimony this morning, and she appeared and is answering questions from Democratic and Republican staff and members from the Intelligence, Oversight, and Foreign Affairs Committees.
The Committees have also scheduled depositions with Dr. Fiona Hill, former Senior Director on the National Security Council for European and Russian Affairs, who left the White House in August 2019; Deputy Assistant Secretary George Kent; Ambassador Gordon Sondland; and State Department Counselor T. Ulrich Brechbuhl.
We expect to announce additional testimony from relevant witnesses in the coming days and remain prepared to compel testimony through duly authorized subpoenas as appropriate.
When the House recessed two weeks ago, I assured you and the American people that we grasped the gravity of the impeachment inquiry which we are conducting, and that we would move with a sense of urgency and that we would not be deterred or distracted by political attacks. We will protect and defend our Constitution and the integrity of our elections. In the upcoming work period, we will continue and accelerate our efforts. I look forward to keeping you updated as we proceed.