Rick Perry officially left the Trump administration just days ago, but he is mentioned more than 50 times in the House Democrats’ impeachment report, meaning they see him as vital to the probe of President Trump.
No new allegations surrounding Perry’s role are made in the 300-page report House Intelligence Democrats, but the document offers the clearest account yet of how the former Energy secretary aided Trump’s plan to deny critically-needed aid to Ukraine unless the country’s new president announced an investigation into alleged wrongdoings by Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, who sat on the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings Ltd.
The report shows Perry’s involvement and implication from the get-go, having led the US delegation to the new Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s inauguration, his participation in a contentious White House meeting on Ukraine, and arranging a controversial call between Trump and Zelenskiy in July.
Democrats also cited Perry’s refusal to comply with a congressional subpoena to testify and hand over documents in recent weeks as evidence of Trump obstructing Congress, a potentially impeachable offence.
The report alleges that Perry and the department, which “has not produced a single document” requested by investigators, and the DoE has repressed access to “documents that witnesses have identified as relevant to the impeachment inquiry.”
The report also mentioned how committees sent a subpoena to Perry on Oct. 10 seeking 10 “categories of documents” in response to word of his involvement. The DOE responded “by refusing to produce any documents and reciting many of the same flawed arguments as the White House Counsel.” according to the document.
The report notes a list of names passed to Zelenskiy by Perry during a May 2019 meeting, listing “people he trusts” should Zelenskiy need advice on energy issues.
Investigators are also looking for an email sent on the 5th of June to Perry and others about a trip Zelenskiy made to Brussels and a dinner that US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland coordinated.
The House Judiciary Committee will review the report in hearings, expected to culminate with the panel considering articles of impeachment against the US president as soon the second week of December, with a vote in the House possible before the Festive break.
Trump’s remarks came just days after he tweeted he was “fighting for future Presidents and the Office of the President.”
Trump went on to express his lack of concern should other members of his Cabinet, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo testify before the Senate, where a trial would likely take place near the beginning of 2020.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declined to comment on Trump’s suggestion that Perry and others would testify before the Senate.
“If the House does in fact act, then the Senate will be in business with an impeachment trial,” the Kentucky Republican said.
House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff told a press conference that Perry and other executive branch officials who refused to testify were acting under Trump’s instruction.
“The president instructed witnesses not to appear. The president used his office and the pulpit to try to intimidate witnesses,” said Schiff, before adding that letting the obstruction charges go unanswered would leave Trump and future presidents immune to allegations of future misconduct.
“The committees also have good-faith reason to believe that the Department of Energy is in possession of and continues to withhold significantly more documents and records responsive to the subpoena and of direct relevance to the impeachment inquiry,” the report notes.