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Pompeo clashes with Democrats over diplomats' testimony

Posted at 10:49 PM, Oct 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-02 00:49:43-04

WASHINGTON, d.c. — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused House Democrats of trying to "bully" and "intimidate" State Department officials by scheduling depositions about their involvement with President Trump's call with the Ukrainian president on short notice.

On Friday, three House chairmen wrote to Pompeo informing him they had set dates for joint depositions of five State Department officials named in the whistleblower complaint about the Ukraine call. The first officials were scheduled to be deposed this week.

Pompeo responded on Tuesday, writing in a letter to House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel that the committee had not given the officials adequate time to prepare.

"I am concerned with aspects of your request, described more fully below, that can be understood only as an attempt to intimidate, bully, and treat improperly the distinguished professionals of the Department of State, including several career Foreign Service Officers," Pompeo wrote.

Pompeo also indicated he would respond to a separate subpoena requesting documents related to the call by the deadline of Friday. On Monday, Pompeo was revealed to have been on the call between Mr. Trump and the Ukrainian president, a development first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

The chairmen issued a response of their own later Tuesday, accusing Pompeo of stonewalling their investigation and intimidating witnesses.

"He should immediately cease intimidating Department witnesses in order to protect himself and the President," they said in a statement.

Later Monday, a House Intelligence Committee official said one of the officials, ex-envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker, will appear behind closed doors as planned on Thursday. Another official, former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, will now appear on October 11 instead of Wednesday as originally planned.