WASHINGTON (CN) – Three Congressional committees threatened Monday to subpoena the State Department over reports that President Donald Trump pressured Ukraine into investigating the son of his potential 2020 election opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden.
“By withholding these documents and refusing to engage with the committees, the Trump administration is obstructing Congress’ oversight duty under the Constitution to protect our nation’s democratic process,” the chairs of the House Foreign Affairs, Intelligence, and Oversight and Reform Committees wrote to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. “Due to the urgent and grave nature of these allegations, our committees will have no choice but to move towards compulsory process this week unless the department produces the documents we have requested.”
The letter from the three Democrats comes amid an increasingly public fight over the details of a still-secret complaint from a whistleblower in the intelligence community who is said to have described overtures Trump made to the Ukrainian president regarding work Biden’s son did for a Ukrainian energy company.
Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee seek a copy of the complaint, which the whistleblower deemed an “urgent concern.” While this designation would normally trigger a mandatory disclosure to Congress, Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire has declined to turn over the complaint, saying that he determined it did not meet the statutory definition of an urgent concern, in consultation with the Justice Department.
Trump has said he is open to releasing the transcript of a call with the Ukrainian president in which he reportedly discussed the investigation into Biden’s son, but did not commit to doing so on Monday. He has alternately denied that he did anything improper on the call and attacked the whistleblower as politically motivated.
The fight has boiled over in Congress, with Democrats demanding more details about the call and the complaint that brought it to light. Maguire is scheduled to testify before the House Intelligence Committee later this week, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer made an appeal to Republicans on Monday to take up their own probe.
“So far in the face of this dire warning and the Trump administration’s effort to cover it up, the Republican-led Senate has remained silent and submissive, shying away from this institution’s constitutional duty to conduct oversight,” the New York Democrat said to the Senate floor. “That’s an obligation we have. It’s not a yes or no. That’s our job.”
Responding to Schumer’s call, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell accused Schumer and House Democrats of politicizing an issue that is best discussed behind closed doors in the Intelligence Committees. McConnell said Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Richard Burr is working to have Maguire and the intelligence community’s inspector general testify before the committee.
“It is regrettable that House Intelligence Committee Chairman [Adam] Schiff and Senator Schumer have chosen to politicize the issue, circumventing the established procedures and protocols that exist so the committees can pursue sensitive matters in the appropriate, deliberate bipartisan manner,” McConnell said Monday.