Mike Pence has two weeks to turn over documents related to Donald Trump’s April 21 and July 25 phone calls with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, as well as any and all communications tied to a long list of other meetings concerning the administration’s Ukraine strategy.
If the vice president does not comply with the request, that recalcitrance will count as evidence of obstruction in the House impeachment inquiry.
That’s according to a letter sent to Pence on Friday by Adam Schiff, Eliot Engel and Elijah Cummings. It comes days after senator Bob Menendez sent Pence a letter asking if the vice president played a role in trying to advance Trump’s personal agenda in Ukraine.
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The letter from the House committee chairs cites multiple press reports as well as public comments from Pence, including remarks on Thursday when the vice president said the American people should know whether Joe Biden or his family profited from Biden’s position during the Obama administration.
The issue isn’t whether the American people have a “right to know”. Rather, the issue is that there is no evidence to support the accusations the Trump administration continues to make, and even if there were, soliciting a foreign government for help in a US presidential election (implicitly or otherwise) and linking that help to the distribution of congressionally-approved military aid is grounds for impeachment and represents a flagrant violation of the nation’s core principles.
As Vox’s Aaron Rupar reminds you, Pence’s views on this have “evolved”, so to speak. During one of the vice-presidential debates, for example, he said this: “This is basic stuff. Foreign donors – and certainly foreign governments – cannot participate in the American political process”.
On Wednesday, the Washington Post detailed Pence’s involvement in the Ukraine debacle.
“Trump instructed Pence not to attend the inauguration of Zelensky in May when Ukraine’s new leader was seeking recognition and support from Washington”, the Post wrote, citing officials. “Months later”, the same sources said, “the president used Pence to tell Zelensky that US aid was still being withheld while demanding more aggressive action on corruption”.
It was abundantly clear to the Ukrainians by that point (thanks in no small part to Rudy Giuliani) that “corruption” simply meant investigating Joe and Hunter Biden and digging up anything they could find on the 2016 election that might look bad for Hillary Clinton.
Ultimately, it seems unlikely that Pence will comply with the request, which presumably means a subpoena is in Pence’s future.
Indeed, White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham called the request an example of “wasted time, and taxpayer dollars that will ultimately show the President did nothing wrong”.
For their part, the vice president’s office essentially tried to laugh it off.
“Given the scope, it does not appear to be a serious request but just another attempt by the Do Nothing Democrats to call attention to their partisan impeachment inquiry”, Pence’s press secretary Katie Waldman said, in what counts as a “statement” from an administration that habitually employs juvenile slander in official communications.
Suffice to say Katie (not to mention Mike) are two weeks away from finding out just how “serious” this request actually is.