House panel to hold Pompeo in contempt over Ukraine documents

Eliot Engel, the committee’s chairman, said that Pompeo failed to comply with a September 2019 subpoena seeking documents related to the Trump administration’s efforts to withhold security assistance to Ukraine in order to extract damaging information about Biden.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.(REUTERS)
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.(REUTERS)
Updated on Aug 29, 2020 12:46 AM IST
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ByBloomberg | Posted by: Shankhyaneel Sarkar

The House Foreign Affairs Committee plans to hold Secretary of State Michael Pompeo in contempt for refusing to comply with subpoena requests related to the Trump administration’s policy toward Ukraine, the central event in the president’s impeachment this year.

Eliot Engel, the committee’s Democratic chairman, said Friday that Pompeo failed to comply with a September 2019 subpoena seeking documents related to the Trump administration’s efforts to withhold security assistance to Ukraine in order to extract damaging information about Democrat Joe Biden.

Pompeo “has demonstrated alarming disregard for the laws and rules governing his own conduct and for the tools the Constitution provides to prevent government corruption,” Engel said in a statement.

Engel issued a second subpoena in July, demanding records dealing with the Biden, his son Hunter, and Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings that Pompeo separately gave to the Republican-controlled Senate.

“I gave Mr. Pompeo ample opportunity to fulfill my request for documents, which I first made more than three months ago,” Engel said. “These documents were already produced to the Senate, and his refusal to provide them to the Foreign Affairs Committee required that I issue a subpoena on July 31.”

An Aug. 27 letter to Engel from Ryan Kaldahl, acting assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of Legislative Affairs, says State “categorically rejects your baseless assertion that the Department may have acted inappropriately or violated any law by producing documents to two Senate Committees, in your words, in ‘what appears to be partisan misuse of resources.’ We welcome the opportunity to share the facts on this matter.”

Kaldahl, a former aide to President Donald Trump, said State furnished records to the Senate as part of an investigation into undue influence on Ukraine policies during the Obama administration. He said the department will give those same documents to the House Foreign Affairs Committee if the panel conducts a similar probe.

“If you can confirm by letter that the Committee is, in fact, substantively investigating identical or very similar corruption issues involving Ukraine and corrupt influence related to U.S. foreign policy, the Department is ready to commence production of documents responsive to such a request,” Kaldahl said.

Engel rejected that demand, saying it would amount to agreeing to probe a “conspiracy theory” meant to do little more than “smear” Trump’s competitor, months before the Nov. 3 election.

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©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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