House Democrats have subpoenaed the US Energy Secretary as part of their impeachment investigation into President Donald Trump’s dealings with Ukraine.
The House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight and Reform committees sent Rick Perry a subpoena on Thursday asking him to provide documents related to a Ukrainian state-owned energy company as well as his involvement in a July call between Mr Trump and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
The committees set a deadline for October 18.
Mr Trump has said Mr Perry teed up the July 25 call, in which Mr Trump pressed Ukraine to investigate his Democratic rival Joe Biden and his son, who was employed by a Ukrainian gas company.
A spokeswoman for Mr Perry said he wanted Mr Trump to speak on energy matters with the Ukrainian leader as part of US efforts to boost Western energy ties to Eastern Europe.
“Recently, public reports have raised questions about any role you may have played in conveying or reinforcing the president’s stark message to the Ukrainian president,” the three Democratic chairmen wrote.
“These reports have also raised significant questions about your efforts to press Ukrainian officials to change the management structure at a Ukrainian state-owned energy company to benefit individuals involved with Rudy Giuliani’s push to get Ukrainian officials to interfere in our 2020 election.”
The Associated Press reported this week that a circle of businessmen and Republican donors touted their connections to Mr Trump and his personal lawyer, Mr Giuliani, as they sought to install new management at the top of Ukraine’s state-owned gas company last spring.
The plan hit a snag after Mr Zelinskiy’s election, but Mr Perry took up the effort to install a friendlier management team at the company, Naftogaz.
Mr Perry attended Zelinskiy’s May 2019 inauguration as the administration’s senior representative and met privately with Mr Zelinskiy. He has denied any wrongdoing.
Two Florida businessmen tied to Mr Giuliani and the Ukraine investigation were charged on Thursday with federal campaign finance violations.
Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman were arrested on Wednesday trying to board an international flight with one-way tickets at Dulles International Airport in Virginia, according to Geoffrey Berman, the US attorney in Manhattan.
Mr Perry met with counterparts from Ukraine and Poland this week to underscore an agreement intended to ease the way for US-produced natural gas to be shipped to Poland and then piped into neighbouring Ukraine.