Pence (among others) balks at cooperating with impeachment inquiry

Republican U.S. vice presidential nominee Mike Pence speaks at a campaign rally, Oct. 22, 2016, in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
Republican U.S. vice presidential nominee Mike Pence speaks at a campaign rally, Oct. 22, 2016, in Cleveland, Ohio.

Because Vice President Mike Pence has been directly implicated in Donald Trump's Ukraine scandal, several U.S. House leaders sent Pence a request on Oct. 4 seeking documents and communications pertaining to the controversy. Yesterday, lawmakers received a reply.

Vice President Mike Pence's office said Tuesday it will not comply with a request from the House to turn over documents related to President Donald Trump's July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.In a letter to the chairmen of the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees, Pence counsel Matthew Morgan called the request part of a "self-proclaimed impeachment inquiry," noting that the House of Representatives has not yet taken a vote to open the inquiry and asserting that the request was part of a process that "calls into question your commitment to fundamental fairness and due process rights."

It's the use of the phrase "self-proclaimed" that stands out. As Pence's office sees it, the vice president might consider "working with" Congress on providing information, but only if lawmakers conduct their impeachment inquiry in a matter that meets with the White House's approval -- as if it were up to the executive branch to determine the legitimacy of the legislative branch's procedures.

Alas, it was that kind of day. On the heels of Defense Secretary Mark Esper suggesting the Pentagon would comply with impeachment inquiry oversight requests, the Defense Department changed direction yesterday, telling Congress it would not cooperate "at this time" with a House subpoena.

Around the same time, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) told lawmakers that it, too, would not comply with the recently issued subpoenas.

And in case that weren't quite enough, Rudy Giuliani also announced that he wouldn't comply with a congressional subpoena. His lawyer said the former mayor considers the congressional impeachment proceedings to be "unconstitutional, baseless, and illegitimate."

Rep. Denny Heck (D-Wash.) said on the show last night, "They're hiding something." Given the circumstances, it's awfully tough to draw any other conclusion.