Pence refuses House request to provide documents related to Ukraine call

The vice president's office says it won't cooperate with a “self-proclaimed impeachment inquiry.”
Image: Mike Pence, Steven Mnuchin, Robert O'Brien
Vice President Mike Pence, from center, with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, from left, and White House national security adviser Robert O'Brien, waves as he turns to leave after speaking to reporters about Turkey and Syria outside the West Wing of the White House on Oct. 14, 2019.Jacquelyn Martin / AP

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By Leigh Ann Caldwell

WASHINGTON — Vice President Mike Pence’s office said Tuesday it will not comply with a request from the House to turn over documents related to President Donald Trump's July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

In a letter to the chairmen of the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees, Pence counsel Matthew Morgan called the request part of a “self-proclaimed impeachment inquiry,” noting that the House of Representatives has not yet taken a vote to open the inquiry and asserting that the request was part of a process that “calls into question your commitment to fundamental fairness and due process rights.”

Those chairmen sent Pence a request on Oct. 4 asking for documents and communications pertaining to the phone call and the withholding of military and security aid to Ukraine.

“Never before in history has the Speaker of the House attempted to launch an ‘impeachment inquiry’ against a president without the majority of the House of Representatives voting to authorize a constitutionally acceptable process,” the letter says, echoing the same argument used by White House counsel Pat Cipollone in the White House’s reason for not cooperating with Congress.

The letter continues: “Please know that if the Committees wish to return to the regular order of legitimate legislative oversight requests, and the Committees have appropriate requests for information solely in the custody of the Office of the Vice President, we are prepared to work with you in a manner consistent with well-established bipartisan constitutional protections and a respect for separation of powers.”

Until then, Morgan writes, the office of the vice president will protect attorney-client communications and communications involving the president, vice president and their advisers.

Pence’s refusal to turn over documents comes as Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, and Office of Management and Budget Director Russell Vought refused to comply with subpoenas for documents.