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Published: Friday, October 04, 2019 @ 10:23 PM
— Seeking more evidence about whether President Donald Trump pressured the leader of Ukraine into opening investigations desired by Mr. Trump, Democrats on Friday sent subpoenas to Vice President Mike Pence and the White House, setting up a possible political clash over documents and other information within the next two weeks.
"Your failure or refusal to comply with the request, including at the direction or behest of the President or the White House, shall constitute evidence of obstruction of the House's impeachment inquiry," Democrats wrote in a joint letter from House committees.
The request came as lawmakers on Capitol Hill heard more closed door testimony about a complaint by an intelligence community whistleblower, alleging in part that President Trump wanted the government of Ukraine to open investigations into the 2016 elections, and former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
Asked on Friday if he would turn over information sought by Democrats, the President said he would wait for his legal team to review the requests.
"That’s up to the lawyers," the President said to reporters before going to visit with wounded U.S. soldiers. "I know the lawyers think they've never seen anything so unfair. They've never seen anything so unjust."
Q: "Are you going to cooperate with the House subpoenas?"— CSPAN (@cspan) October 4, 2019
President Trump: "I don't know. That's up to the lawyers." pic.twitter.com/N5HtTtk6c6
Democrats have accused the President on stonewalling a series of requests by Congress for documents, as they noted a quote from him earlier in the week, where he told reporters, "I always cooperate."
"President Trump's claim is patently false," Democrats on three House panels said in a joint release.
"After nearly a month of stonewalling, it appears clear that the President has chosen the path of defiance, obstruction, and cover-up," Democrats added.
Earlier on Friday, the White House made clear there would be no documents turned over at all, unless Democrats first vote in the Congress to officially start an impeachment inquiry.
President Trump says the White House is preparing a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi formally objecting to the Democrats' impeachment inquiry without an official vote.— The Associated Press (@AP) October 4, 2019
Pelosi argues there's no requirement that the whole House vote before an inquiry.https://t.co/wMooGXjjpC
No such vote is mandated under House rules - but Republicans and the White House would like to use it to put pressure on some Democrats in swing seats, who might be wary of supporting an impeachment probe.
"He solicited foreign powers to meddle in our electoral politics. And he will do it again unless he is removed," said Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA).
The battle over impeachment is playing out at a time when Congress is not doing legislative business - as lawmakers are out on a break which lasts until the week of October 14.
You can read the letter for the subpoenas to the White House here - where Democrats gave a deadline of October 18.
You can read the letter to Vice President Pence requesting information and documents here - the deadline for that is October 15.