WASHINGTON – Vice President Mike Pence may be “purposefully misleading” Congress about a September conversation between Pence and Ukraine’s president, the Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee told Pence Tuesday.
In a letter to Pence, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., renewed the committee’s request for the vice president to declassify information about the conversation that has been provided to the panel by Jennifer Williams, a foreign policy adviser to Pence.
Pence’s office previously refused the request in a Dec. 11 letter, saying it would serve no purpose.
But Schiff wrote that if Williams’ description of the Sept. 18 call between Pence and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is accurate, it “raises profound questions about your knowledge of the President’s scheme to solicit Ukraine’s interference in the 2020 U.S. presidential election.”
“And it would mean that the representation of your communications with President Zelensky, as described in your office’s December 11 letter, may be purposefully misleading,” Schiff wrote.
A spokeswoman for Pence did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Marc Short, Pence’s chief of staff, told MSNBC that “there’s really not much value in releasing a transcript” of the call.
“We may end up releasing the vice president’s transcript,” Short said. “But right now, why would we participate in this charade of a process?”
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Even as the House is expected to consider Wednesday whether to impeach President Donald Trump over the withholding of military assistance to Ukraine, House Democrats are continuing to pursue information they say may be relevant.
Williams, a State Department employee on loan to Pence’s office, initially testified during a November closed-door briefing that Pence’s Sept. 18 conversation with Zelensky was a “very positive call.” Pence reiterated to Zelensky that the delayed military aid had been released, according to Williams. She also testified that there was no discussion of the investigations that Trump had asked Zelensky to undertake in a July 25 conversation.
When Williams was preparing for her Nov. 19 public hearing, she recalled additional information about the Sept. 18 call that she wanted to disclose “for the sake of completeness,” according to the Intelligence Committee. But Pence’s office told her the additional information was classified.
While Williams submitted the supplemental material to the committee in writing, it can’t be publicly released unless it is declassified.
Schiff wrote in Tuesday’s letter that the information is directly relevant to the two articles of impeachment the House will consider and is relevant to the committee’s ongoing investigation of Trump.
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Pence’s unwillingness to declassify the information, Schiff wrote, suggests he’s protecting not just Trump, but himself.
Schiff asked Pence to respond to the letter by Thursday.
Democrats have so far not subpoened Pence for any information, despite their complaints that he has yet to provide a single document they’ve requested.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Impeachment: Mike Pence accused by Democrats of misleading on Ukraine