Rick Perry subpoenaed for documents related to impeachment probe

Congress subpoenaed the energy secretary on Thursday.

October 10, 2019, 7:11 PM

Congress on Thursday subpoenaed Energy Secretary Rick Perry for documents as part of the ongoing impeachment probe into President Donald Trump's dealings with Ukraine.

The chairmen of the House committees on intelligence, oversight and foreign affairs said they want documents related to Perry's role in U.S. energy policy in Ukraine and whether he was involved in decisions to withhold military aid.

At the center of the impeachment inquiry is a Trump phone call to Ukraine's president asking the foreign power to investigate political rival Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. Perry has said he urged Trump to call Ukraine's leader, but to discuss energy security and economic development, not politics.

The subpoena requests that Perry provide documents related to that call and information about his travel to Ukraine and meetings with Ukrainian officials by Oct. 18.

"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 chairmen wrote.

Perry said last week that he plans to cooperate with Congress' questions in the investigation. This promise followed a request from Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., on the Senate Foreign Affairs committee for information on Perry's trips to Ukraine.

"I'll just briefly say, we're going to work with Congress and answer all their questions. I travel the world representing the United States," he said at an event on artificial intelligence in Chicago last week.

When asked about the subpoena and whether the agency will still cooperate since the White House refused to make officials available until the House holds an official impeachment vote, DOE spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes said, "The Department of Energy is aware of the House Committees' letter to Secretary Perry and it is currently under review by DOE's Office of General Counsel."

Perry has pushed back against allegations that the Trump administration used its dealing in Ukraine to investigate political rivals or possibly steer business toward campaign donors, saying he's "extremely comfortable" that there was no "quid pro quo."

Perry has not been accused of breaking the law. But his influential role in the region has led him to be described by U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland during an interview on Ukrainian television as one of the "three amigos" tasked with overseeing the U.S.-Ukraine relationship, and has made him a key person of interest for lawmakers seeking first-hand knowledge of events.

According to a report by The Associated Press, Perry tried to put at least one of his own previous campaign donors on the board of the Ukrainian gas company. Perry has said he only recommended knowledgeable people in the field for the position.

Last Monday, during energy meetings in Lithuania, Perry said the report was "totally dreamed up" and that the U.S. will continue to make recommendations to Ukraine.

Separately, the AP report identified two Trump donors -- Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, both associates of the president's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani -- as also trying to influence the leadership of the gas company. Parnas and Fruman were charged on Thursday in a case brought by federal prosecutors in New York in connection with an alleged scheme to circumvent federal laws against foreign campaign donations.

"We get asked for our recommendations about people who are experts in areas, various areas," Perry told reporters. "Folks who have expertise in particular areas. Obviously having been the governor of the state of Texas, I know a lot of people in the energy industry."

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