The limits of Donald Trump’s privileges while in the midst of an official impeachment inquiry — both executive privilege and attorney-client privilege — will be tested by the actions of the House Intelligence Committee today to subpoena the president’s personal attorney former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani to produce documents related to the president’s attempt to extort the government of Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and his son.
After broadly hinting that such a move was imminent on yesterday’s Sunday morning talk shows, Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) joined with House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-MD), and Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-NY) to send a subpoena mandating the submission of the requested documents by October 15th or face the consequences of his refusal to cooperate in the impeachment investigation.
“Your failure or refusal to comply with the subpoena, including at the direction or behest of the President or the White House, shall constitute evidence of obstruction of the House’s impeachment inquiry and may be used as an adverse inference against you and the President,” the subpoena warns Giuliani.
The subpoena goes on to explain the reason for the necessity of the document request and of the impeachment inquiry itself.
“Our inquiry includes an investigation of credible allegations that you acted as an agent of the President in a scheme to advance his personal political interests by abusing the power of the Office of the President. A growing public record, including your own statements, indicates that the President, you, and others appear to have pressed the Ukrainian government to pursue two politically-motivated investigations. The first is a prosecution of Ukrainians who provided evidence against Mr. Trump’s convicted campaign chairman, Paul Manafort. The second relates to former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who is challenging President Trump for the presidency in 2020.”
“For example, on September 19, 2019, you admitted on national television that you personally asked the government of Ukraine to target Vice President Biden. During an interview on CNN, Chris Cuomo asked you, ‘So, you did ask Ukraine to look into Joe Biden?’ You responded, ‘Of course I did.’ In addition to this stark admission, you stated more recently that you are in possession of evidence — in the form of text messages, phone records, and other communications — indicating that you were not acting alone and that other Trump Administration officials may have been involved in this scheme. The subpoena requires you to produce all of those communications, and other related documents, to the Committees in order to determine the full extent of this effort by the President and his Administration to press Ukraine to interfere in our 2020 presidential election,” the subpoena reads.
In addition to its latest subpoena to Trump’s personal attorney and rogue international emissary, the House Intelligence Committee has sent a similar request seeking documents from Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo regarding Trump’s call with Ukraine President Zelensky and the State Department’s communications with Giuliani
The committee has already scheduled five depositions with State Department officials. The first deposition is set to take place on Wednesday when the committee will question the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, who was unexpectedly recalled to Washington after Trump referred to her as “bad news.”
With the ball now in Trump and Giuliani’s court, it remains to be seen whether the administration will defy the subpoena and trigger a constitutional crisis and how the House Demod=crats will respond if they do.
To say this will be an interesting week on Capitol Hill would be the understatement of the year.
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Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.