Written by Nicholas Fandos
The House on Monday expanded its sprawling impeachment inquiry, issuing subpoenas to the Defense Department and the Office of Management and Budget for documents that could solve lingering mysteries about whether President Donald Trump’s decision to withhold security aid for Ukraine was tied to his efforts to pressure the government there to investigate his political rivals.
The action kicked off what was expected to be another busy week of investigation in Washington, where questions related to Ukraine appear increasingly likely to result in a vote on Trump’s impeachment.
Two senior U.S. diplomats caught up in the scandal are scheduled to speak to investigators before the week is through, while a third who was scheduled to be deposed Monday failed to show up. And lawmakers appeared to be in the final stages of arranging a highly secure interview with the anonymous CIA whistleblower whose complaint prompted the inquiry.
As three congressional committees pressed forward to determine the validity of the whistleblower’s complaint, which accused Trump of hijacking U.S. foreign policy for his political benefit, the president sounded defiant and continued to lash out at his accusers.
“People understand it’s a fraud, it’s a scam, it’s a witch hunt, and all we do is keep fighting for the American people because that’s all I do,” Trump said Monday evening at the White House. He called his actions “very terrific.”
With the new subpoenas issued Monday, the House was trying to unearth communications and other records that might shed light on two enduring questions at the center of the impeachment inquiry: why the White House decided last summer to abruptly suspend the $391 million aid package to Ukraine, and whether it was connected to contemporaneous efforts by Trump and his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, to pressure the country to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and other Democrats.
The subpoenas, issued by the Democrat-controlled House Intelligence Committee, follow similar demands for documents from the State Department and the White House made in recent days. They gave the agencies until Oct. 15 to hand over notes, memos and communications related to the aid, deliberations over its delivery within the government, and possible conversations with Ukrainian officials about it.