Giuliani Subpoenaed by House Democrats in Impeachment Inquiry
Rudy Giuliani, former mayor of New York, attends the U.S. Supreme Court nomination announcement ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S. (Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

Giuliani Subpoenaed by House Democrats in Impeachment Inquiry

(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani was subpoenaed for documents Monday by Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee, as the impeachment inquiry into the president accelerates.

The Democratic chairmen of the House committees on foreign affairs, intelligence and oversight gave Giuliani a deadline of Oct. 15 to turn over documents he referred to in TV interviews regarding his conversations with Ukrainian officials. The documents include “text messages, phone records and other communications” that could indicate which other administration officials were involved.

“Your failure of refusal to comply with the subpoena, including at the direction of behest of president or the White House, shall constitute evidence of obstruction of the House’s impeachment inquiry and may be used as an adverse inference against you and the president,” the letter says.

Giuliani said on Twitter late Monday that the chairmen “have prejudged this case.” The subpoena raises questions about matters including attorney-client privilege and “will be given appropriate consideration,” he wrote.

The committee chairmen also requested depositions with three of Giuliani’s business associates: Lev Parnas, Igor Fruman and Sam Kislin.

This letter follows another subpoena for documents from Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, as the Democratic-led House committees try to sustain the momentum of the impeachment inquiry sparked last week by a whistle-blower report. The report detailed Trump’s conversation to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, a leading candidate for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

Trump recommended that Zelensky contact Giuliani for guidance on allegations regarding Biden and his son Hunter.

Attorney-Client Privilege

Giuliani, 75, a former mayor of New York City and Trump’s personal lawyer, has continued to advance claims that Biden as vice president used leverage to force out Ukraine’s top prosecutor to protect his son who served on the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holding from prosecution. Biden has said he called for the prosecutor’s ouster to foster more anti-corruption probes, and Ukrainian officials have said Hunter Biden was not under investigation.

On Sunday, Giuliani said on ABC News’ “This Week” he would refuse to cooperate with House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, whom Trump has accused of treason.

Giuliani may assert attorney-client privilege to try to avoid producing documents to Congress or testifying if he is called to give testimony, but he’s unlikely to succeed, according to legal experts.

“The privilege only applies to communications between Giuliani and Trump for the purpose of giving Trump legal advice,” said Stephen Gillers, a law professor at New York University.

John Bies, chief counsel at American Oversight, a liberal-leaning ethics watchdog group, said, “Here, much of what Giuliani is involved in does not involve traditional attorney-client privilege.”

If Giuliani refuses to produce documents or answer questions, the House committees could go to court and ask a judge to order him held in civil or criminal contempt. A judge could order him jailed until he complies.

“The real question is how fast the courts will work,” Gillers said. “One of Trump’s hole cards in his rather brilliant strategy of stonewalling Congress is that will take months or years in congressional efforts to force officials to testify.”

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