Mike Pence would be happy to “work with [House Democrats] in a manner consistent with well-established bipartisan constitutional protections” if and when the three committees conducting an impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump “return to the regular order of legitimate legislative oversight”, but until then, Mike is going to have to sit this one out, Matthew Morgan, his counsel, said Tuesday.
Earlier this month, Adam Schiff, Eliot Engel and Elijah Cummings sent Pence a letter requesting all manner of documents related to the administration’s efforts to compel the government of Ukraine to open investigations into Trump’s political rivals. The request came days after senator Bob Menendez asked Pence if the vice president played a role in trying to advance Trump’s personal agenda in Ukraine.
“Trump instructed Pence not to attend the inauguration of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in May when Ukraine’s new leader was seeking recognition and support from Washington”, the Washington Post wrote last week, 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”.
Morgan’s letter to House Democrats effectively suggests that if Nancy Pelosi takes a full House vote on authorizing an impeachment inquiry, Pence will cooperate with regard to “information solely in the custody of the Office of the Vice President”.
Of course, since nobody ever tells Mike anything, that’s probably not going to be very useful anyway.
Jokes aside, Morgan uses derisive terminology to refer to the “impeachment inquiry” (always in scare quotes) throughout the letter, calling it a “purported” investigation and a “self-declared” probe.
At one point, he tries to turn a declarative into an interrogative to disastrous grammatical effect:
Instead of being accountable to the American people and casting a vote to authorize what all agree is a substantial constitutional step, you have instead attempted to avoid this fundamental requirement by invoking the Speaker’s announcement of an “official impeachment inquiry” at a press conference?
That is not a question, despite Matthew’s attempt to make it one. But if he wants to insist that it is, the answer is “yes”.
Despite Morgan’s implicit accusations and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone’s silly screed (delivered to the House last week) there is no Constitutional requirement to hold a floor vote and it’s not required by House rules either. That’s why Republicans are powerless to stop this train.
For Pelosi, one worry is that holding a full vote would jeopardize the political fate of vulnerable Democrats in pro-Trump districts. So, from a strategic perspective, the Speaker doesn’t think the trade off is worth it – yet. But it might be eventually, because while it could imperil some vulnerable Democrats, it would also undermine Republican claims that the inquiry isn’t legitimate.
In any event, Pelosi isn’t moving forward on it right now.
“There is no requirement that we have a vote. So at this time, we will not be having a vote”, she told reporters in Washington on Tuesday night.
As for Mike Pence, well, he’s at risk of being accused of obstruction.