Vice President Mike Pence will not be supplying House committees with documents they requested as part of their impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.
In a letter sent by Pences office late Tuesday (pdf), his counsel Matthew Morgan dubbed the House committees request as part of a “self-proclaimed impeachment inquiry.'” He added that “the purported impeachment inquiry has been designed and implemented in a manner that calls into question your commitment to fundamental fairness and due process rights.”
The request (pdf) was issued to Pence on Oct. 4 by House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), House Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), and House Oversight and Reform Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.).
The committee chairmen stated in the letter to Pence that they are probing “the extent to which President Trump jeopardized national security by pressing Ukraine to interfere with our 2020 election; and by withholding security assistance provided by Congress to help Ukraine counter Russian aggression; as well as any efforts to cover up these matters.”
In the letter to the committee chairmen, Pences office noted that the House of Representatives “has not authorized any impeachment inquiry.'” Morgan also pointed out that “the operative House rules do not delegate to any committee the authority to conduct an inquiry under impeachment power of Article 1, Section 2 of the Constitution (pdf).
“Instead of being accountable to the American people and casting a vote to authorize what all agree is a substantial constitutional step, you have instead attempted to avoid this fundamental requirement by invoking the Speakers announcement of an official impeachment inquiry at a press conference,” the letter reads.
“Never before in history has the Speaker of the House attempted to launch an impeachment inquiry against a President without a majority of the House of Representatives voting to authorize a constitutionally acceptable process.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said late Tuesday that the House would hold off on holding a formal impeachment inquiry vote.
An earlier letter addressed to Pelosi from White House counsel Pat Cipollone on Oct. 8 had also pointed out that the House had never in U.S. history tried to launch an impeachment inquiry against a president without a majority House vote.
The letter from Pences office noted that some of the documents requested by the committees “are clearly not vice-presidential records,” but added that the office is prepared to cooperate “in a manner consistent with well-established bipartisan constitutional protections and a respect for the separation of powers.”
“Until that time, the Office of the Vice President will continue to reserve all rights and privileges that may apply, including those protecting executive privileges, national security, attorney-client communications, deliberations, and communications among the President, the Vice President, and their advisors,” the letter said.
The committees did not subpoena Pence as they did to Trumps lawyer Rudy Giuliani and