Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday sternly objected to a move by the U.S. House of Representatives to obtain depositions from five current and former State Department officials as part of an impeachment inquiry targeting President Donald Trump, accusing Democrats of bullying and intimidation, APA reports quoting Reuters.
The five have been scheduled to give depositions this week and next as the Democratic-led House looks into Trump’s request to Ukraine’s president to investigate a domestic political rival, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.
Democrats last week launched the impeachment effort in light of a whistleblower complaint against the Republican president by a person within the U.S. intelligence community who accused Trump of soliciting foreign interference in the 2020 U.S. election for his personal political benefit. Trump, who is running for re-election next year
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last week launched an impeachment inquiry into Trump over Ukraine - a step that could lead to approval of articles of impeachment - or formal charges - in the House. That would lead to a trial in the Senate on whether to remove Trump from office but the president’s fellow Republicans control that chamber and have shown little appetite for removing him.
Pompeo, who is in Italy for a three-day trip, objected to a request by Democratic Representative Eliot Engel, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, for the department to make the officials available for depositions. The officials include former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch and former U.S. special representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker.
In a letter posted on Twitter, Pompeo told Engel, “I am concerned with aspects of your request that can be understood only as an attempt to intimidate, bully and treat improperly the distinguished professionals of the Department of State, including several career Foreign Service Officers, whom the committee is now targeting.”
Pompeo said his department would respond to a Foreign Affairs Committee subpoena by Friday. Pompeo said proposed dates for the depositions do not provide adequate time for preparation and that the officials may not attend any depositions without executive branch counsel present to control disclosure of confidential information.
He said records that have been requested are subject to restrictions relating to classified information and other executive branch privileges. Pompeo added that there is no legal basis for the committee’s assertion that a failure to appear would constitute evidence of obstruction.
Pompeo said he would use “all means at my disposal to prevent and expose any attempts to intimidate the dedicated professionals” at the State Department.