Energy aides named in articles of impeachment against Trump

Source: By George Cahlink, E&E News reporter • Posted: Tuesday, December 10, 2019

The Department of Energy, as well as two key energy aides, is specifically cited in an article of impeachment filed today by Democrats against President Trump for obstructing Congress.

House Judiciary Democrats are set to mark up two articles — one focused on abuse of power and the other obstruction — by Thursday at the latest.

They will then send them to the House floor for what would be the chamber’s third-ever vote to impeach a president. That floor vote is expected next week.

According to the obstruction article, no previous president has ever ordered “complete defiance” of a congressional inquiry.

“The abuse of power served to cover up the president’s own repeated misconduct and control the power of impeachment — and thus to mollify a vital safeguard vested solely in the House of Representatives,” it says.

The obstruction article specifically names the Energy Department for failing to comply with subpoenas related to the congressional investigation into Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. It noted no executive branch agency, including DOE, provided a single document to Congress.

Additionally, the article cites Brian McCormack, former chief of staff to departed Energy Secretary Rick Perry, and Wells Griffith, a senior White House energy adviser, as among nine executive branch officials who contributed to the obstruction by declining subpoenas from congressional investigators seeking their testimony.

Griffith, who will soon leave his post on the National Security Council for a job with the Overseas Private Investment Corp., was identified by investigators as a witness who could back Perry’s claim he was not involved in any effort to get Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden.

Griffith attended a White House meeting in July at which the then-national security adviser, John Bolton, became enraged over back-channel outreach to Ukraine (Energywire, Dec. 9).

McCormack, who left DOE over the summer to work on energy issues at the Office of Management and Budget, also attended the now infamous White House meeting in July. He also was part of an email chain with Perry and top White House officials setting up the July 25 call between Trump and the Ukrainian president that sparked the impeachment probe.

Perry stepped down as secretary earlier this month and is seen as a central player in the investigation with more than 50 mentions in the House Democrats’ impeachment report.

He was not himself named in the articles because he was not directly subpoenaed. Instead, investigators only sought documents from him that DOE refused to provide.

The president has said he would welcome Perry testifying in his Senate trial, which is likely to begin next month.

The abuse of power article outlines a now familiar charge that Trump sought to withhold nearly $400 million in aid to Ukraine and a White House visit for its new president until the Eastern European nation launched investigations into the Biden family and Burisma Holdings Ltd., a Ukrainian gas giant.

Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said this morning in announcing the articles that Trump’s abuses have left Congress with “no choice.”

“To do nothing would make ourselves complicit in the president’s abuse of his high office, the public trust and our national security,” he added.

Click here to read the House’s articles of impeachment.