Three House Committees just demanded all of the records in Vice President Mike Pence’s possession that relate to his role in President Trump’s extortion plot against Ukraine as part of the ongoing impeachment inquiry.
The letter from the respective Democratic Chairmen of the House Intelligence, Government Oversight, and Foreign Affairs Committees marks a major milestone for VP Pence’s involvement in the blossoming scandal begun when the White House withheld foreign aid from Ukraine in exchange for “favors.”
Just last week, Trump threw Pence under the bus by telling a public audience during New York’s General Assembly that they should “ask for Vice President Pence’s conversation, because he had a couple of conversations also.”
Now, the vice president is facing an extensive four-page subpoena for records from the House and every single action he took, including meeting with President Zelensky of Ukraine, is going to fall under the microscope of Congress’s impeachment investigation.
It's official. Chairmen Cummings, Schiff, and Engel have sent a letter conveying a subpoena to White House Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney for key Ukraine documents as part of the House's impeachment inquiry of Trump. https://t.co/I28PYbqxUZ
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) October 4, 2019
The Chairmen wrote (embedded below):
Note the ominous phrasing “shall constitute evidence of obstruction,” which is a direct reference to the third article of the Nixon bill of impeachment passed in the House Judiciary Committee for contempt of Congress. As an Article II Executive officer under the Constitution, obstructing the impeachment inquiry would be grounds for removal from office.
Vice President Mike Pence has always kept a generally low profile in the Trump Administration, having far more experience in the ways of Washington than the President, but his new high-profile role as a human shield in Trump’s impeachment defense strategy is putting him in an unenviable position. Either Pence turns over potentially incriminating evidence and documents which could end the Trump presidency, or he could be removed from office for failure to comply.
On top of that, the documents Pence produces could conceivably implicate himself in the sordid affair to manipulate American foreign policy for Trump’s and possibly his own, personal political gain.
Notably, the letter from Chairmen Cummings, Engel and Schiff contains a heretofore unreported reason as to why the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee unexpectedly announced his retirement last week. Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX) is in a safe”red” district chose to quit. The letter reveals he was one of the members of Congress pushing the Trump administration to stop dragging its feet on hundreds of millions of dollars the House appropriated to Ukraine. They wrote:
And Thornberry isn’t the only Republican Congressman who was upset about Ukrainian aid being stalled. Key GOP Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin is another member who pressed the White House for answers when he wasn’t allowed to tell Ukraine’s president that the funds would arrive in August. He told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:
“I was surprised by the president’s reaction and realized we had a sales job to do,” Johnson said during a constituent stop in Sheboygan. “I tried to convince him (in August) to give me the authority to tell President Zelensky that we were going to provide that. Now, I didn’t succeed.”
With his comments Friday, Johnson made clear that he was aware of allegations Trump was withholding aid to Ukraine for political reasons weeks before the public knew of the accusation.
In fact, Axios reports that Sen. Johnson knew about Trump’s quid pro quo over a month before the public found out!
Tonight’s news that Vice President Pence has been drawn deeply into the House’s impeachment investigation means that there is an ever-increasing chance that we may see a bill of impeachment against more officials than just President Trump. Furthermore, it tarnishes Pence’s prior reputation as the only member of the Trump Administration who has managed to stay outside of the line of fire for its many scams, scandals, and resignations. But most importantly, the Congressional demand letter to the Vice President reveals part of an increasingly important series of breadcrumbs which reveal which Republicans knew that Ukrainian aid was being unusually diverted, and when they knew it.
If President Trump’s support inside the Republican congressional caucus erodes even slightly, the chances of his removal from office could skyrocket overnight, just like Nixon’s did before he resigned.
Here is the letter from the House Intelligence, Oversight, and Foreign Affairs Chairmen:
Grant Stern is an Editor-At-Large for OccupyDemocrats and published author. His new Meet the Candidates 2020 book series is distributed by Simon and Schuster. He's also mortgage broker, community activist and radio personality in Miami, Florida., as well as the producer of the Dworkin Report podcast. Grant is also an occasional contributor to Raw Story, Alternet, and the DC Report. Find out more at grantstern.com.