WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump railed Wednesday against the investigation into his dealings with Ukraine, hours after House Democratic leaders warned the White House to expect a subpoena for documents.
Separately, Democrats accused Trump of "an incitement to violence" against a national security whistleblower, and advised him and his administration not to intimidate potential witnesses in the impeachment inquiry. The whistleblower exposed a July phone call that Trump had with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in which Trump pressed for an investigation of Democratic political rival Joe Biden and his family. Democrats say the pressure on Zelenskiy, on its own, constitutes an abuse of power worthy of impeachment scrutiny.
In appearances in the Oval Office and at a joint news conference with the president of Finland, Trump defended what he has called his "perfect" phone call with Zelenskiy. He suggested that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff may have committed treason, and labeled Biden and his son "stone cold crooked."
Trump declined to answer yes or no when asked if he would cooperate with the House to produce requested documents on Ukraine.
"Well, I always cooperate," he said, though his administration has repeatedly stonewalled congressional investigations. "This is a hoax," he added.
Schiff, accusing Trump of inciting violence against the whistleblower, had said earlier that any effort to interfere with the Democrats' investigations would be considered evidence of obstruction and could be included in articles of impeachment.
"We're not fooling around here," Schiff said at a joint news conference with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. "We don't want this to drag on months and months and months, which would be the administration's strategy. So they just need to know even as they try to undermine our ability to find the facts around the president's effort to coerce a foreign leader to create dirt that he can use against a political opponent, that they will be strengthening the case on obstruction."
After asserting that Congress would not let impeachment entirely eclipse its legislative agenda, Pelosi accused the president of an "assault on the Constitution."
Trump responded to the congressional leaders in real time on Twitter.
"The Do Nothing Democrats should be focused on building up our Country, not wasting everyone's time and energy on BULLS***, which is what they have been doing ever since I got overwhelmingly elected in 2016, 223-306. Get a better candidate this time, you'll need it!"
Trump has tweeted in recent days that he wants to "find out about" the whistleblower and question him or her, though the person's identity is protected by the Whistleblower Protection Act.
The Democrats said they would subpoena the White House on Friday for documents related to Trump's dealings with Ukraine. House Oversight and Reform Chairman Elijah Cummings wrote in a memo to committee members that the action is necessary because the White House has ignored multiple requests.
Referring to a report on the whistleblower's complaint, Cummings said that given the "stark and urgent warnings" the inspector general for the intelligence community has delivered to Congress, the panel has "no choice but to issue this subpoena."
The subpoena will be directed toward acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and request 13 separate batches of documents related to the July call and related matters. The call unfolded against the backdrop of a $250 million foreign aid package for Ukraine that was being readied by Congress but stalled by Trump.
The subpoena announcement came as House and Senate staff members prepared to meet with the State Department's inspector general Wednesday afternoon.
A State Department email invitation said the inspector general, Steve Linick, "would like to discuss and provide staff with copies of documents related to the State Department and Ukraine." The documents were obtained from the State Department's acting legal adviser, according to the email.Gallery: House Democrats speak on impeachment inquiry during press conference
But Democrats' hopes were dashed when Linick on Wednesday handed over a packet of news clippings, timelines and interview notes that appeared to belong to Trump's private lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, most related to the corruption accusations about Biden and his son.
Meanwhile, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo acknowledged Wednesday that he was on the phone call between Trump and Zelenskiy that is at the center of the impeachment inquiry. He also continued to push back against what he said was Democrats' "bullying and intimidation."
Democrats have scheduled private depositions today with former special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker and next week with ousted U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch and three other State Department officials. Pompeo told the committees Tuesday that the dates they had set were "not feasible," but at least some of the officials still plan to attend.Gallery: President Donald Trump meets Finnish President Sauli Niinisto
Volker met last year with a top official of the same Ukrainian energy firm that paid Biden's son to serve on its board. The meeting took place even as Giuliani was pressing Ukraine's government to investigate the company and the Bidens' involvement with it.
Volker, who abruptly resigned his post as U.S. special representative for Ukraine negotiations last week, met in late September 2018 in New York with Vadym Pozharskyi, an adviser to the board of directors of Burisma Group, the Ukrainian firm that had hired Hunter Biden as a director in 2014.
Their encounter on the sidelines of a think tank event was confirmed by several others who attended the event, as well as by an account and photo of the two men together posted on Burisma's website.
The event was organized by the Atlantic Council, a Washington-based foreign policy think tank.
Biden's son was a Burisma board director until departing before Joe Biden announced his campaign for the presidency in April. There has been no evidence of wrongdoing by either the former vice president or his son, and the Ukrainian firm has not been convicted of any criminal activities.
The intelligence community whistleblower's report says Volker provided advice to Ukrainian leaders about how to "navigate" Trump's demands for a Ukrainian government probe of the Bidens and Burisma. Giuliani has said Volker offered to put him in touch with an aide to Zelenskiy.
Details of the Sept. 24 encounter between Volker and Pozharskyi were not immediately available, though Burisma said Pozharskyi "held a number of meetings with U.S. officials."
Giuliani and pro-Trump researchers have accused Joe Biden of demanding the firing of a Ukrainian prosecutor who had previously investigated Burisma. Biden and other officials in President Barack Obama's administration say his effort in 2015 and 2016 had nothing to do with Hunter Biden but instead was a shared goal of the U.S. and other foreign allies at the time.
GIULIANI THREATENS SUITS
Separately, speaking Tuesday night on the Fox News show The Ingraham Angle, Giuliani said he "had a couple of talks" with attorneys amid the accelerating impeachment investigation and a House subpoena for his own personal records concerning Ukraine.
Their recommendation, Giuliani said, was "that we should bring a lawsuit on behalf of the president and several people in the administration, maybe even myself as a lawyer, against the members of Congress individually for violating constitutional rights, violating civil rights."
Host Laura Ingraham noted that Giuliani's suggestion was "novel," and that congressional immunity prevents House members from being sued for anything they say on the floor. But outside those parameters, Giuliani argued, they could be held liable for forming a "conspiracy" to deprive the president of his constitutional rights.
"This is worse than McCarthy!" he declared, an apparent reference to Joseph McCarthy, the former Republican senator from Wisconsin.
On Tuesday, he suggested that although Congress' oversight of the presidency is among the country's founding principles, he might sue members for violating attorney-client privilege and obstruction of justice over their investigation of the whistleblower's complaint.
Giuliani also alleged that members of Congress were interfering with the president's ability to direct foreign policy under Article II of the Constitution, and echoed Trump's previous claim that Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., had "threatened" withholding Democratic support from Zelenskiy during a September meeting.
Murphy has said he only told Zelenskiy that Ukraine should not become involved in the 2020 election, and should communicate directly with the State Department rather than Trump's campaign.
"They're calling foreign leaders," Giuliani said.
When Ingraham tried to steer the conversation elsewhere, Giuliani offered up yet another hypothetical civil action, bringing up the anonymous whistleblower.
"He might be telling the truth, but he might be lying," Giuliani said. "Suppose there was a conspiracy to develop that with members of Congress. That wouldn't be immune. That would be a conspiracy to violate civil rights."
Information for this article was contributed by Lisa Mascaro, Mary Clare Jalonick, Jonathan Lemire, Matthew Lee, Angela Charlton, Laurie Kellman, Zeke Miller, Jill Colvin, Alan Fram, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, Stephen Braun and Richard Lardner of The Associated Press; by John Wagner, Felicia Sonmez and Antonia Noori Farzan of The Washington Post; and by Nicholas Fandos and Peter Baker of The New York Times.
At a news conference with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff warned that the White House is flirting with obstruction of justice by not cooperating. Pelosi accused the president of an “assault on the Constitution.” More photos are available at arkansasonline.com/103finland/ and arkansasonline.com/103inquiry/
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visits the Sala Regia state hall at the Vatican on Wednesday with U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See Callista Gingrich (right) and his wife, Susan (center). Pompeo acknowledged Wednesday that he listened in on the July 25 phone call between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy that sparked a House impeachment inquiry.
State Department Inspector General Steve Linick leaves a meeting with House and Senate staff members Wednesday at the Capitol to “discuss and provide” documents that turned out to be a packet of news clippings, timelines and interview notes that appeared to belong to Trump’s private lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, most related to the accusations about former Vice President Joe Biden and his son.
A Section on 10/03/2019
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