Resignation Won’t Divert House Subpoena of Rick Perry

Energy Secretary Rick Perry testifies on May 9, 2019, before the House Energy and Commerce Committee regarding his future budget request. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File )

WASHINGTON (CN) – Facing scrutiny about his role in Ukraine dealings that have driven a campaign to impeach President Donald Trump, Energy Secretary Rick Perry will resign his office. Before that can happen, the clock for Perry to answer a House subpoena runs down Friday.

Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney faces a Friday deadline as well, summoned to appear before lawmakers on the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees at the end of a weeklong slog of closed-door depositions.

For his part, Perry has been noncommittal about complying with the subpoena, saying only that he received the request and it was under review by White House counsel. The secretary, whose resignation Trump announced on Thursday, did not immediately respond to request for comment.

Lawmakers want to learn more from Perry about the role he played in U.S.-Ukraine relations and what occurred during his trip to Ukraine in May as a part of a U.S. delegation attending Ukraine President Volodomyr Zelensky’s inauguration.

The former Texas governor was drawn into the probe because he replaced Vice President Mike Pence on the trip. Perry has not been accused of any criminal wrongdoing, but lawmakers believe his insights are valuable because of his proximity to other key figures from the inquiry including U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, U.S. Special Envoy Kurt Volker and Alex Vindman, director of European affairs for the National Security Council.

Publicly, Perry has said that he asked Trump after the trip to call Zelensky directly because he sought to create goodwill between the leaders.

He said Trump declined and instead suggested Perry speak with his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani. It was Giuliani, Perry told The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, who said Trump was concerned Ukraine was involved in an attempt to derail his election in 2016.

Giuliani rattled off a series of baseless allegations to Perry, at one point suggesting Ukraine had Hillary Clinton’s email server and at another point that someone in Ukraine had a hand in convicting former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort.

“I don’t know whether that was crap or what,” Perry said Wednesday.

As Perry is drawn in deeper, so too is the acting White House chief of staff.

Mulvaney, following a chaotic and at times frantic press conference on Thursday, faces a subpoena deadline for records Friday but he may also soon receive a request from lawmakers for his deposition.

During the White House press briefing, Mulvaney appeared to admit to a quid pro quo, saying Trump withheld military aid to Ukraine to solicit an investigation. Rather than an investigation of Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden — as Trump has admitted to having sought — the investigation Mulvaney described was one the 2016 election.

Hours later, Mulvaney walked back his comments in an official statement that largely blamed the media for misconstruing his words. His prepared remarks were quite different than the candid admissions he made before reporters.

“Let me be clear, there was absolutely no quid pro quo between Ukrainian military aid and any investigation into the 2016 election,” Mulvaney said in a statement. “The president never told me to withhold any money until the Ukrainians did anything related to the [DNC] server. The only reasons we were holding the money was because of concern about lack of support from other nations and concerns over corruption.”

The White House distanced itself from Mulvaney in the immediate aftermath of the conference. Jay Sekulow, one of Trump’s attorneys, told CNN the president’s legal team was not involved in the preparation of Mulvaney’s remarks.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff has yet to publicly confirm that Mulvaney will be hauled in for deposition. On Thursday afternoon, when Schiff emerged from Gordon Sondland’s closed-door hearing, he expressed alarm by Mulvaney’s comments.

“The fact that acting chief of staff Mulvaney, with his acknowledgement now that military aid to a vital ally, an ally battling Russia as we speak, was withheld in part out of desire by the president to have Ukraine investigate the DNC server or Democrats or 2016, things have just gone from very, very bad to much, much worse,” Schiff said.

According to the subpoena request, lawmakers want Mulvaney to relinquish documents related to the July 25 call between Trump and Zelensky, records related to the ousting of former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, and any correspondence between Mulvaney and Rudy Giuliani.

They also want Mulvaney to submit any records which might indicate a campaign by White House staff to limit access to the transcript of the July 25 call.

In a tweet Friday, Trump announced Perry’s replacement: Dan Brouillette. He is a former Ford Motor lobbyist and previously served as assistant secretary for congressional and intergovernmental affairs under former President George W. Bush.

%d bloggers like this: