Pompeo Instructs State Department Officials To Ignore House Subpoenas
House Democrats looking to depose State Department officials in their impeachment inquiry are engaged in “an attempt to intimidate, bully, and treat improperly” those officials, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday.
In a letter to House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-NY), Pompeo said he was “concerned with aspects” of committee chairmen’s requests, adding that some “can be understood only as an attempt to intimidate, bully, & treat improperly the distinguished professionals of the Department of State,” CNBC reported.
“Let me be clear: I will not tolerate such tactics,” the secretary added. “I will use all means at my disposal to prevent and expose any attempts to intimidate the dedicated professionals whom I am proud to lead and serve alongside at the Department of State.”
Pompeo was subpoenaed by three House committees for documents related to the impeachment inquiry, which focuses on President Donald Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukraine’s president brought to attention by an intelligence community whistleblower complaint in August.
The complaint accuses Trump of “using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election” by asking Ukraine to investigate his potential political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden.
The Wall Street Journal revealed on Monday that Pompeo was one of the officials present during Trump’s call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, at which time the president discussed a potential investigation with his counterpart.
Pompeo took issue with Democrats’ scheduling of depositions for five current and former State Department officials — former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, former Ukraine special envoy Kurt Volker, Deputy Assistant Secretary George Kent, State Department counselor Ulrich Brechbuhl and U.S. ambassador to the E.U. Gordon Sondland.
“The Committee has not issued any subpoenas for depositions, and we are not aware of any other authority by which the committee could compel appearance at a deposition,” Pompeo wrote.
He also said the committees have not given the officials adequate time to prepare for the depositions, which are slated to occur over the next two weeks.
Further, Pompeo said the officials would only be permitted to attend a deposition if Executive Counsel is present. He added that Democrats’ requests for officials to hand over documents, which Pompeo said are “property of the State Department,” constitutes “an act of intimidation and an invitation to violate federal records laws.”