Perry subpoenaed in impeachment probe
Washington – House Democrats have subpoenaed Energy Secretary Rick Perry as part of their impeachment investigation into President Donald Trump’s dealings with Ukraine.
The House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees sent Perry a subpoena Thursday asking him to provide documents related to a Ukrainian state-owned energy company as well as his involvement in a July call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. The committees set a deadline for Oct. 18.
Trump has said Perry teed up the July 25 call, in which Trump pressed Ukraine to investigate his Democratic rival Joe Biden and his son, who was employed by a Ukrainian gas company.
A spokeswoman for Perry has said he wanted Trump to speak on energy matters with the Ukrainian leader as part of U.S. efforts to boost Western energy ties to Eastern Europe.
“Recently, public reports have raised questions about any role you may have played in conveying or reinforcing the president’s stark message to the Ukrainian president,” the three Democratic chairmen wrote. “These reports have also raised significant questions about your efforts to press Ukrainian officials to change the management structure at a Ukrainian state-owned energy company to benefit individuals involved with Rudy Giuliani’s push to get Ukrainian officials to interfere in our 2020 election.”
The Associated Press reported this week that a circle of businessmen and Republican donors touted their connections to Trump and his personal lawyer, Giuliani, as they sought to install new management at the top of Ukraine’s state-owned gas company last spring.
The plan hit a snag after Zelinskiy’s election, but Perry took up the effort to install a friendlier management team at the company, Naftogaz. Perry attended Zelinskiy’s May 2019 inauguration as the administration’s senior representative and met privately with Zelinskiy. He has denied any wrongdoing,
Trump said Thursday he did not know why Democrats are focusing on Perry.
“I don’t know why they’d be calling all these people” as part of the impeachment inquiry, Trump said. “It’s a very bad situation for our country.”
The subpoena comes as two Florida businessmen tied to Giuliani and the Ukraine investigation were charged Thursday with federal campaign finance violations.
Perry met with counterparts from Ukraine and Poland this week to underscore an agreement intended to ease the way for U.S.-produced natural gas to be shipped to Poland and then piped into neighboring Ukraine.
Meanwhile, Mitt Romney hasn’t yet decided whether Trump should be impeached, but the Republican senator from Utah on Thursday stuck by criticism that has earned him a stream of insults from Trump on Twitter.
Romney, a Michigan native, said that while he thinks some things the president has done are wrong, it doesn’t necessarily mean Trump should be removed from office.
“I will keep an open mind until and unless there is some kind of decision reached by the House, and then I will evaluate that information at that point,” he said, referring to the House impeachment inquiry. “It’s a purposeful effort on my part to stay unbiased and see the evidence as it’s brought forward.”
Trump’s Saturday Twitter stream came after the senator became one of the few in the GOP to speak out against Trump’s call for China to investigate the family of presidential hopeful Joe Biden.
Romney calmly brushed off the president’s rebuke, saying he doesn’t follow him on Twitter.
Romney repeated his criticism of Trump’s apparent overtures to China and Ukraine, as well as the more widely shared disagreement with Trump’s decision to pull U.S. troops from Syria’s border. Romney also said he agrees with Trump on other policy positions and expects him to win the GOP nomination and another term.
“Whether you support the president or not I think he’s by far the most likely to get re-elected,” as many Democratic candidates take increasingly further left positions, Romney said. He declined to comment on how possible impeachment might affect the 2020 race.