WASHINGTON, D.C. – Sept 27, 2019 Congressmen Adam Schiff (D-CA), Eliot Engel (D-NY) and Elijah Cummings (D-MD) subpoenaed Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo.
Schiff, Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Engel, Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and Cummings, Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform sent a letter to Pompeo stating he had not produced the documents as requested in two letters dated September 9 and September 23, 2019.
The letters requested the State Department to:
- “identify and notify all current and former employees and contractors, subcontractors, consultants and Special Government Employees who may have access to such records that they are to be preserved;
- “identify, record, and preserve any records which have been deleted or marked for deletion but are still recoverable; and
- “if it is the routine practice of any employee or contractor to destroy or otherwise alter such records, either halt such practices or arrange for the preservation of complete and accurate duplicates or copies of such records, suitable for production, if requested.”
The first deadline was set as September 16, which passed, and then was set again for September 26, 2019.
Since these deadlines were missed, the letter notified Pompeo that the Committee on Foreign Affairs (after consulting with the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Committee on Oversight and Reform) was issuing a subpoena for these documents.
The Congressmen stated that they were “investigating the extent to which President Trump jeopardized national security by pressing Ukraine to interfere with our 2020 election and by withholding security assistance provided by Congress to help Ukraine counter Russian aggression.”
At the core of this investigation is the July 25, 2019 call between President Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky and the declassified whistle-blower complaint that stated that T. Ulrich Brechbuhl, the Counselor of the Department, listened in on the call.
The letter goes on to state that the State Department has already acknowledged that Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker had arranged meetings between the president’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, and President Zelensky’s representatives. According to the complaint and the letter, “multiple U.S. officials were deeply concerned by what they viewed as Mr. Giuliani’s circumvention of nation security decision making processes to engage with Ukrainian officials and relay messages back and forth between Kyiv and the President.”
The Congressmen’s letter also stated they were “conducting this investigation in an expeditious, coordinated manner. The Inspector General of the Intelligence Community has determined that the whistle-blower complaint raises a matter of ‘urgent concern,’ is ‘credible ,’ and ‘relates to one of the most significant and important of the DNI’s (Director of National Intelligence) responsibilities to the American people’: our free and fair elections.”
In the September 24, 2019 Memorandum Opinion for the General Counsel Office of the Director of National Intelligence it is clearly stated that “a complaint from an intelligence-community employee about statements made by the President during a telephone call with a foreign leader does not involve an ‘urgent concern,’ as defined in 50 U.S.C § 3033(k)(5)(G), because the alleged conduct does not relate to ‘the funding, administration, or operation of an intelligence activity’ under the authority of the Director of National Intelligence. As a result, the statute does not require the Director to transmit the complaint to the congressional intelligence committees.”
Put another way, the complaint was not “urgent” in the manner the three Congressmen have outlined it. Rather it was taken out of context to the meaning of the statute. “The alleged misconduct is not an ‘urgent concern’ within the meaning of the statue because it does not concern the ‘funding, administration, or operation of an intelligence activity’ under the authority of the DNI.”
What is not mentioned in the notice of the subpoena to Pompeo is the May 4, 2018 letter written by Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) to General Prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko which references the Ukraine government not cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Ours is a relationship built on a foundation of respect for the rule of law and accountable democratic institutions. In four short years, Ukraine has made significant progress in building these institutions despite ongoing military, economic and political pressure from Moscow. We have supported that capacity-building process and are disappointed that some in Kyiv appear to have cast aside these principles in order to avoid the ire of President Trump. If these reports are true, we strongly encourage you to reverse course and halt any efforts to impede cooperation with this important investigation.
This letter has an implied threat to withhold funds to Ukraine.
This investigation not only has implications for the Mueller probe, but also speaks to critically important investigations into the corrupt practices of the Yanukovich administration, which stole millions of dollars from the people of Ukraine. Blocking cooperation with the Mueller probe potentially cuts off a significant opportunity for Ukrainian law enforcement to conduct a more thorough inquiry into possible crimes committed during the Yanukovich era. This reported refusal to cooperate with the Mueller probe also sends a worrying signal — to the Ukrainian people as well as the international community — about your government’s commitment more broadly to support justice and the rule of law.
The deadline to comply with the production of the documents is October 4, 2019.