Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday defended the Trump administration over its Ukraine dealings amid an impeachment inquiry into the matter from House Democrats — whose fury at President Donald Trump seems to grow with each passing day.
Pompeo, a Trump Cabinet official, told reporters that governments have a “duty to investigate” potential 2016 election interference, as Fox News reported — and he said the Obama administration did not do enough during its own time in power.
“This administration was incredibly focused on making sure that we worked with Ukraine in a way that was appropriate,” he told reporters while traveling in Athens, Greece.
“And it is not only appropriate but it is our duty to investigate if we think there was interference in the election of 2016,” he said.
The State Department missed a deadline on Friday to comply with a House Democratic subpoena to deliver documents related to dealings with Ukraine and Trump personal attorney Rudy Giuliani.
Pompeo said the State department would do what the law requires it to do.
And see other Pompeo updates here.
Discussed our security cooperation with #Greece – a vital @NATO Ally and important partner – with Defense Minister Panagiotopoulos today. We believe that U.S.-Greece cooperation on defense & security will only enhance Greece's ability to promote peace and stability in the region. pic.twitter.com/0OVRf9lCUj
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) October 5, 2019
The House Oversight Committee late on Friday newly subpoenaed the White House; the Democratic heads of three House committees declared in a Friday letter that Trump “has chosen the path of defiance, obstruction, and cover-up” in response to the ongoing inquiry related to his July phone conversation with the Ukraine president.
In the letter to acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, the three committee heads — Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings ( D-Md.), Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), and Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) — together gave the White House until October 18, exactly two weeks from now, to produce new documents they’re seeking.
“We deeply regret that President Trump has put us — and the nation — in this position, but his actions have left us with no choice but to issue this subpoena,” the committee chairmen wrote.
The committee issued the subpoena as part of Democratic efforts to push along the highly partisan impeachment investigation. And it came “as the West Wing was set to allow the similar request for documents from the president’s staff to go unfulfilled, likely forcing Democrats to make good on their threat to issue a subpoena for the records,” reported Fox News.
Democrats — many of whom have wanted Trump out of the office from the moment he was inaugurated — claim Trump pressured Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 election by freezing military aid, then urging Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, his son Hunter Biden and their business dealings in the Eastern European country.
But Trump never mentioned the 2020 election — nor did he ever mention money on the phone call.
And the Ukraine president himself said he was never pressured to do anything.
The subpoena on Friday “seems likely to escalate the clash between the two branches of government,” Fox News noted. “The president said he would formally object to the impeachment investigation, even while acknowledging that House Democrats “have the votes” to proceed.”
Meanwhile, in a late-breaking development on Friday, there soon may be a second “whistleblower,” The New York Times suggested.
Ukraine’s top prosecutor also announced on Friday that his office is “conducting an audit” of the investigation of Burisma Holdings, the natural gas conglomerate — and a company on whose board Hunter Biden served and earned a handsome sum for doing so.
Ruslan Ryaboshapka, Ukraine’s prosecutor general, said at a press conference on Friday morning that his office would look into various cases that had been investigated and then been closed — in order to ensure they were handled correctly. Fox News and other outlets reported. One of the cases he’ll be looking into, according to the same reports, is the Burisma investigation.
“We are now reviewing all the cases which were closed, fragmented or investigated earlier in order to make a decision on cases where illegal procedural decisions were taken,” Ryaboshapka said at a news conference.
This comes just days after President Donald Trump called on Ukraine to investigate both Joe Biden and Hunter Biden. Trump said on Thursday on the South Lawn of the White House that if Ukraine “were honest about it,” it “would start a major investigation against the Bidens. It’s a very simple answer.”
“Likewise, China should start an investigation into the Bidens, because what happened with the Bidens in China is just about as bad,” Trump also said.
Democrats were quick to pounce on those statements.
“President Zelensky — if it were me I would recommend they start an investigation into the Bidens because nobody has any doubt that they aren’t crooked,” Trump also declared.
Trump also took to Twitter early on Friday to defend his calls for Ukraine to launch this investigation.
“As president I have an obligation to end CORRUPTION, even if that means requesting the help of a foreign country or countries,” Trump tweeted.
“It is done all the time. This has NOTHING to do with politics or a political campaign against the Bidens. This does have to do with their corruption!”
As President I have an obligation to end CORRUPTION, even if that means requesting the help of a foreign country or countries. It is done all the time. This has NOTHING to do with politics or a political campaign against the Bidens. This does have to do with their corruption!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 4, 2019
Trump, specifically, would like to know how Hunter Biden — who knew little about the energy business and the country of Ukraine as a whole — ended up on Burisma’s board during the time his father was actively serving as vice president.
Biden himself admitted he put pressure on Ukraine to fire a prosecutor who had been looking into the company’s founder — though Democrats say his reason for doing this was concerns about corruption.
Biden proudly acknowledged on camera in January 2018 that he threatened to withhold $1 billion in critical U.S. aid if the prosecutor was not fired.
Here’s exactly what he said on camera during a Council on Foreign Relations event: “I said, ‘I’m telling you, you’re not getting the billion dollars.’ I said, ‘You’re not getting the billion. I’m going to be leaving here in’ — I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said, ‘I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money.'”
“Well, son of a b****, he got fired,” Biden then finished that story in front of an appreciative crowd.
Hunter Biden, as a board member of Burisma, reportedly made $50,000 per month
Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani recently sat down with the prosecutor who ended up closing the Burisma probe — and Giuliani told Fox News he “believes Hunter Biden receives millions of dollars in compensation from Burisma.”
Democrats are hoping to impeach Trump for allegedly pressuring Ukraine to investigate the Bidens.
Trump also spoke on Friday morning on the topic — see this tweet below.
Pres Trump adamant "there was no quid pro quo," with Ukraine to investigate the Bidens. “I don’t care about Biden’s campaign. I care about corruption,” said Trump. "That's the whole ball game," he said. And is confident Senate Republicans stand with him against impeachment. pic.twitter.com/5DnAv9q2rz
— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) October 4, 2019
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