DOD Won’t Comply With House Subpoena, Citing Illegitimate Impeachment Probe

ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA - SEPTEMBER 23: U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper comes out from the building to welcome Germany Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer during an enhanced honor cordon at the Pentagon Sep... ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA - SEPTEMBER 23: U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper comes out from the building to welcome Germany Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer during an enhanced honor cordon at the Pentagon September 23, 2019 in Arlington, Virginia. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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October 16, 2019 8:51 a.m.
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The Department of Defense won’t comply with House committees’ subpoena of documents relevant to the impeachment inquiry “at this time,” citing the ongoing White House claim that the House’s probe is illegitimate.

In a letter from Assistant Secretary of Defense for Legislative Affairs Robert Hood on Tuesday, the Defense Department took issue with the House’s authority to launch an impeachment probe without a full House vote — the line of attack that the White House and top Republicans have been peddling for weeks. It also argued that the documents requested in the subpoena were protected by executive privilege and would require “careful review” before they could be handed over.

The Pentagon also took issue with the characterization that it would be obstructing the impeachment probe if it refused to comply.

“Invoking reasonable legal defenses to a subpoena, including invoking legal privileges that are held by the President, in no way manifests evidence of obstruction or otherwise warrants an adverse inference,” Hood wrote. “Indeed, the very idea that reasonably asserting legal rights is itself evidence of wrongdoing turns fundamental notions of fairness on their head and is inconsistent with the rule of law.”

The State Department has also taken steps, at the behest of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, to block witness testimony and documents subpoenaed by Congress as part of its impeachment inquiry.

Read the full letter below:

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