WASHINGTON (AP) - Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday declared that House Democrats are trying to "intimidate, bully and treat improperly" five current and former career officials in demanding depositions on the Ukraine matter.
Pompeo said in a letter to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, as part of the chamber's impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, that the requested dates for the officials to voluntarily appear are "not feasible."
"I am concerned with aspects of your request," Pompeo wrote to Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., chairman of the panel. "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.“
In issuing a separate subpoena last week as part of the inquiry, the chairmen of three House committees made it clear that stonewalling their investigation would be considered obstruction of Congress in its investigation.
The panels are seeking documents from the State Department and voluntary testimony from the current and former officials.
"Your failure or refusal to comply with the subpoena shall constitute evidence of obstruction of the House's impeachment inquiry," wrote Engel and the other chairmen, Adam Schiff of the Intelligence Committee, and Elijah Cummings of the Oversight Committee.
The chairmen in their letter were seeking testimony for former State Department officials over the next two weeks, including the former ambassador to Ukraine, Marie "Masha" Yovanovitch, and former special envoy Kurt Volker.
It's unclear whether Pompeo will comply with the committee's request for documents by Friday.
Pompeo, traveling in Italy to meet with the country's president and prime minister, ignored shouted question about the impeachment inquiry.
House Democrats launched an impeachment inquiry of Trump after a whistleblower's disclosure of a July phone call with the Ukraine president in which he sought help in investigating Democratic rival Joe Biden and Biden's son Hunter.