House Subpoenas Three More Officials in Impeachment Probe

President Donald Trump talks to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House on Friday. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

WASHINGTON (CN) – Amid the White House’s ongoing efforts to stymie the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, House Democrats on Friday subpoenaed three officials who have refused requests to appear before lawmakers voluntarily as part of the investigation.

The subpoenas sent Friday afternoon call acting Office of Management and Budget Director Russell Vought, the office’s Associate Director for National Security Programs Michael Duffey and State Department Counselor Ulrich Brechbuhl to appear next month before the committees leading the inquiry.

The committees sent letters to Vought and Duffey earlier this month asking them to appear for closed-door depositions, but both officials told lawmakers this week they would not attend, citing a letter the White House sent House leadership stating the administration will not comply with the impeachment inquiry as Democrats are currently conducting it.

Earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal reported the White House gave Duffey authority to delay a military aid package to Ukraine, despite concerns from career staffers that such a move might not be legal.

That Ukrainian aid package has come to the forefront of the impeachment inquiry, as a top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine testified behind closed doors this week that the White House conditioned the aid on Ukraine publicly announcing investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and his family as well as the 2016 U.S. election.

Lawmakers requested a deposition from Brechbuhl at the end of September, but he told the committees through an attorney that he would not be testifying voluntarily.

Under the subpoenas, Duffey would be deposed on Nov. 5, while Vought and Brechbuhl would go before the committees a day later.

The subpoenas come as the Trump administration and congressional Republicans ramp up their opposition to the impeachment inquiry, which they have criticized as secretive and unfair.

Anticipating pushback from the White House, the committees warned the officials there will be consequences if they do not comply with the subpoenas.

“Your failure or refusal to appear at the deposition, including at the direction or behest of the president or the White House, shall constitute evidence of obstruction of the House’s impeachment inquiry and may be used as an adverse inference against the president,” the chairs of the House Intelligence, Oversight and Reform and Foreign Affairs Committees wrote to the officials.

Neither the Office of Management and Budget nor the State Department responded Friday to requests for comment on the subpoenas.

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