House Dems threaten to subpoena White House for Ukraine docs

WASHINGTON — House Democrats announced Wednesday that they would subpoena White House officials by the end of the week if their demands for documents related to the investigation into President Donald Trump's alleged efforts to push Ukraine to probe Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden were not met.

“I do not take this step lightly,” House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings, D-Md., said in a letter to his panel notifying them that he would issue the subpoena Friday on behalf of his panel, along with the House Intelligence and Foreign Affairs committees, if the White House did not comply with the request for relevant materials. “Over the past several weeks, the Committees tried several times to obtain voluntary compliance with our requests for documents, but the White House has refused to engage with—or even respond to—the Committees."

The latest move came amid an escalating impeachment battle mid-week, with lawmakers rolling out a wave of planned hearings and potential subpoenas, all meeting with fierce resistance from White House and administration officials.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff, D-Calif., planned to speak to reporters Wednesday morning despite the congressional recess, ahead of a closed-door Capitol Hill briefing with the State Department’s inspector general that was described as "urgent."

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UNITED STATES - JANUARY 29: Chairman Elijah Cummings, D-Md., and ranking member Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, conduct a House Oversight and Reform Committee business meeting in Rayburn Building on Tuesday, January 29, 2019. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., Chairman of House Oversight and Government Reform Committee

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

UNITED STATES - JANUARY 29: Ranking member Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, right, and Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., are seen during a House Oversight and Reform Committee business meeting in Rayburn Building on Tuesday, January 29, 2019. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - JUNE 30: Carolyn Maloney, D-NY., during the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Democrats hold a forum on 'Law Enforcement Tools to Stop the Flood of Illegal Weapons' on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. (Photo By Douglas Graham/Roll Call)
UNITED STATES Ð MAY 10: Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., listens during the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on 'The Future of Capital Formation' on Tuesday, May 10, 2011, at the US Capitol. (Photo By Bill Clark/Roll Call)
Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), speaks to reporters, after U.S. President Donald Trump's second State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. (Photo by Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 29: Rep. Katie Hill, D-Calif., arrives for a House Oversight and Reform Committee business meeting in Rayburn Building on Tuesday, January 29, 2019. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, DC, UNITED STATES - 2018/12/12: US Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) at the American Zionist Movement / AZM Washington Forum: Renewing the Bipartisan Commitment Standing with Israel and Zionism in the Capitol Visitor Center in Washington, DC. (Photo by Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 07: U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) (C) during a news conference in front of the U.S. Capitol February 7, 2019 in Washington, DC. Sen. Markey and Rep. Ocasio-Cortez held a news conference to unveil their Green New Deal resolution. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Representative Mark Meadows, a Republican from North Carolina, speaks to members of the media following James Comey, former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), not pictured, testifying before the House Judiciary and House Oversight and Government Reform Committees joint investigation in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, Dec. 7, 2018. Comey said he'll return for a second meeting with House lawmakers after a day of closed-door questioning that he said was related mostly to Hillary Clinton's emails. Photographer: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images
US Representative Rashida Tlaib, Democrat of Michigan, speaks during a press conference calling on Congress to cut funding for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and to defund border detention facilities, outside the US Capitol in Washington, DC, February 7, 2019. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 11: U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) speaks at the End Gun Violence Together Rally hosted by TOMS at Union Market Dock 5 on February 11, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 29: Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., attends a House Oversight and Reform Committee business meeting in Rayburn Building on Tuesday, January 29, 2019. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
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At some point Wednesday, the State Department’s inspector general, Steve Linick, is expected to hold a bipartisan, bicameral briefing with staff from House and Senate committees that cover foreign relations, oversight issues and appropriations. It’s possible lawmakers could attend, but the vast majority of them are at home in their districts this week.

Multiple sources confirmed to NBC News Tuesday that the inspector general’s office reached out to the congressional committees with what they described as an “urgent request” to brief staff about documents related to the State Department and Ukraine.

The request came on the heels of fresh executive branch resistance to congressional investigators, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday portraying himself as a defender of State Department officials against Hill bullying.

“I have also been made aware that Committee staff has been sending intimidating communications to career Department professionals, who have specifically asked for Committee communications to be channeled through the Bureau of Legislative Affairs, as is customary," he wrote in a Tuesday letter to House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel, D-N.Y. "Let me be clear: I will not tolerate such tactics, and I will use all means at my disposal to prevent and expose any attempts to intimidate the dedicated professionals whom I am proud to lead and serve alongside at the Department of State.”

In the wake of Pompeo's pushback, a deposition that was expected to take place before two congressional panels Wednesday with former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch was delayed by a week.

The former U.S. envoy to Ukraine, Kurt Volker, who resigned his post last week, however, will testify before Congress on Thursday, as originally scheduled.

At Pelosi’s direction, Democrats have focused their impeachment inquiry on the whistleblower’s complaint that was made public last week regarding the phone call President Donald Trump had with his Ukrainian counterpart over the summer.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo admitted Wednesday morning — after it had been reported by multiple news outlets — that he was on that July phone call.

Meanwhile, Trump accused Democrats of launching a coup against him through their efforts to potentially impeach him.

"As I learn more and more each day, I am coming to the conclusion that what is taking place is not an impeachment, it is a COUP," he tweeted.

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