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House Democrats Subpoena White House For Ukraine Documents

"Bernadette Horseman" (2019-10-09)

If we want to do it, we'll do it. If we don't, we don't. IG through documents and testimony the reasons why he found the whistleblower complaint to be both urgent and credible. " added Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), a member of the Intelligence panel. "Let’s put this in perspective, folks. What the inspector general said last time was, the whistleblower pulled the fire alarm. Quigley said Atkinson was "continuing to protect the whistleblower," whose credibility has come under attack from Trump and his allies. Atkinson deemed the complaint both "urgent" and credible after his review. Most lawmakers were tight-lipped as they emerged from the closed-door hearing. But Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) told reporters that Atkinson spoke about the process of his investigation, which found that the whistleblower’s allegations were both urgent and credible. "He made a very compelling case," Speier said. Atkinson’s testimony came the day after a former top envoy to Ukraine provided lawmakers with damning text messages suggesting that the White House was withholding critical military assistance unless Ukraine’s president launched investigations targeting Trump’s political adversaries.

Atkinson’s appearance before the panel on Friday was his first since the whistleblower complaint was released publicly, and lawmakers were eager to hear how he handled the whistleblower's claims. It was unclear whether Atkinson would share his full report with the committee, but Democrats were insisting on it. If the committee obtains all or parts of Atkinson’s report, Democrats’ impeachment inquiry could speed up dramatically. The committees’ joint letter to Pence on Friday demanded documents related to Trump’s July 25 phone call with Zelensky, during which Trump pressured his Ukrainian counterpart to launch an investigation targeting Biden and his son, Hunter. The request has a deadline of Oct. 15, and could issue a subpoena if Pence doesn’t meet their demand. ’s stark message to the Ukrainian president," the chairmen wrote in their request. Friday is also the deadline for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to comply with a subpoena for documents related to State Department officials’ involvement with Giuliani as he sought to coordinate his efforts with Ukrainian officials. Democrats could subpoena the documents if Pompeo denies the request.

They also subpoenaed documents from Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and set an Oct. 15 deadline for him to turn over the material. Kurt Volker, the former U.S. Ukraine negotiations, testified behind closed doors for nearly nine hours on Thursday about his knowledge of Trump’s efforts to pressure Zelensky to investigate Biden and other political opponents. Trump and his allies have sought to undermine the whistleblower’s credibility by asserting that the individual did not have first-hand knowledge of Trump’s phone call with Zelensky. However, acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire told lawmakers last week that the complaint was "in alignment" with the rough transcript of the call, and whistleblower complaints do not require first-hand knowledge of the events in question. Whistleblower protection laws require that a complaint be turned over to congress ( when the inspector general deems it "urgent," as Atkinson did in this case. But Maguire withheld the complaint from the House and Senate intelligence committees after consulting with the Justice Department and the White House counsel’s office.

Atkinson opposed Maguire’s decision and later briefed the Intelligence Committee. But Atkinson was unable to discuss the substance of the complaint during that briefing because Maguire had not yet authorized it to be released. In recent days, Trump and his allies have seized on the revelation that a Democratic staffer on the Intelligence Committee had brief contact with the whistleblower before he or she filed the complaint. It’s part of a larger GOP strategy to deflect criticisms from the president and instead hammer Schiff and Pelosi over how they're conducting the impeachment inquiry. House GOP leaders are demanding a full House vote authorizing the inquiry - which Pelosi has rejected - while suggesting Schiff and his aides improperly communicated with the whistleblower before the complaint was filed. "Chairman Schiff should be disqualified from running an investigation where his committee — members or staff — are fact witnesses about contact with the whistleblower and the whistleblower process," Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) said after emerging from Friday's hearing in the basement of the Capitol. But Schiff’s staff has maintained that it is normal for whistleblowers to contact the Intelligence Committee for guidance before submitting a formal complaint.