WASHINGTON — Democrats on the three U.S. House committees overseeing the presidential impeachment inquiry have subpoenaed documents from U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Texas’ former governor.
Last week, Perry was identified as a potential player in allegations against the president that accuse Trump of threatening to withhold military funding to Ukraine if foreign officials didn’t investigate the business activities of Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice President Joe Biden, a likely Trump opponent in next year’s general election. Trump reportedly told Republicans during a conference call that the July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, which is the premise of the impeachment inquiry, was instigated by Perry.
Perry and energy officials said he encouraged Trump to reach out to the Ukrainian leader — but to discuss energy and economic issues, not about investigating the Bidens.
The subpoena requests documents “that are necessary for the committees to examine this sequence of these events and the reasons for the White House’s decision to withhold critical military assistance to Ukraine that was appropriated by Congress to counter Russian aggression,” U.S. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., wrote in a letter attached to the subpoena.
An energy department spokesperson said late Thursday that the agency’s attorneys are reviewing the committees’ letter to Perry.
The committees are requesting information about whether Perry sought to pressure the Ukrainian government to make changes to the advisory board of its state-owned oil and gas company, Naftogaz, as well as records from Perry’s attendance to the May inauguration of Zelensky in Kiev. According to the letter, Perry allegedly gave Zelensky a list of potential board members, which included previous campaign donors and Robert Bensh, a Houston energy executive.
The subpoena also requests documents related to “all meetings and discussions” related to Ukraine between Perry and Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer who is also implicated in the Ukraine controversy. Perry’s relationship with Giuliani dates back to at least 2008, when Perry was still governor, and he endorsed the former New York City mayor for his presidential run.
Wednesday night, the FBI arrested Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, two of Giuliani’s associates, on charges of violations in campaign finance laws in a new criminal case that touched on their work in Ukraine and alleged financial ties to Russia. Both men are also witnesses in the House’ impeachment inquiry. The indictment against the two men said they “committed to raise $20,000 or more” for a then-sitting U.S. Congressman later identified as Pete Sessions, who was ousted from his Dallas-based U.S. House seat last year. Sessions last week said he plans to now seek another Texas-based U.S. House seat.
Last week media reports claimed Perry is planning on resigning, though he has adamantly denied those reports. Even then, Perry would have a longer tenure than most all other senior officials in the Trump administration.
Democrats have said that they plan to pursue impeachment as quickly as possibly, even as soon as this year. The deadline for Perry to fulfill the subpoena is Oct. 18.