WASHINGTON — The House on Monday subpoenaed the Defense Department and the Office of Management and Budget for documents about the Trump administration’s decision to withhold security aid for Ukraine, expanding the impeachment inquiry into how President Trump sought to pressure the government there to dig up dirt on his political rivals.
The subpoenas, issued by the Democrat-controlled House Intelligence Committee, gave the federal agencies until Oct. 15 to comply.
The panel appears to be trying to unearth communications and other records that might shed light on one of the enduring mysteries of the United States’ interactions with Ukraine: why the White House decided last summer to abruptly suspend the $391 million aid package, and whether it was connected to contemporaneous efforts by Mr. Trump and his personal lawyer to pressure the country to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and other Democrats.
The White House has denied that the aid was being withheld to exert leverage over the Ukrainians, but at least one senior diplomat worried privately that that was precisely what was happening, and the administration has been unwilling to answer questions about the timeline and rationale for the decision. Regardless of the reasoning, the decision to withhold aid that was allocated by Congress on a bipartisan basis prompted confusion and concern within the State and Defense departments, as well as among lawmakers in both parties.
Democrats leading the impeachment inquiry in the House suspect the actions may be related.
“The enclosed subpoena demands documents that are necessary for the committees to examine this sequence of these events and the reasons behind the White House’s decision to withhold critical military assistance to Ukraine that was appropriated by Congress to counter Russian aggression,” read the letters, signed by Representative Adam B. Schiff, chairman of the Intelligence Committee; Representative Elijah E. Cummings, chairman of the Oversight and Reform Committee; and Representative Eliot L. Engel, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee.