Democratic congressman: Administration officials who ignore subpoenas do so 'at their peril'

President Trump speaks after a signing ceremony for a trade agreement with Japan in the White House on Monday

The chairmen of the three House committees leading Democrats' impeachment inquiry on Tuesday issued a subpoena to Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, the same day the State Department blocked him from testifying.

Former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch - whom Trump recalled in May before her term was up after after his supporters questioned her loyalty - is scheduled to meet with the committees behind closed doors on Friday.

Cipollone says the probe is invalid because the House has not voted to authorize the launch of an impeachment inquiry.

Cipollone also accused Congress of threatening executive branch officials with punishment for exercising "fundamental constitutional rights and prerogatives".

- In a response shortly after Trump's letter, Pelosi warned that withholding documents and witnesses would be used as evidence of obstruction of Congress in possible articles of impeachment.

The White House's letter was apparently in the works since last week, when the AP reported that the White House had planned to formally tell Pelosi that it will not cooperate with the House's impeachment probe, but it was unclear at the time how harsh of a stance the White House Counsel's Office would take. Now, he is trying to make lawlessness a virtue.

The letter argues - a contention denied by the Democrats - that the impeachment effort is simply aimed at reversing the result of the 2016 presidential election and influencing the 2020 election.

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White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement: "The President has done nothing wrong, and the Democrats know it".

One concern the White House has involves the whistleblower.

"I presume the calculation is that congressional Republicans are more likely to stick with Trump over stonewalling Congress than after they hear whatever Sondland would say under oath", she tweeted.

Progressive activists have been credited for keeping the heat on lawmakers to hold Trump accountable for his misconduct, and advocacy groups are continuing to mobilize to ensure House Democrats follow through with their inquiry.

Three House committees are demanding that Sondland appear at a deposition October 16.

A characteristically sarcastic George Conway, husband to White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, was unsurprised by the news that Sondland would not be testifying, tweeting: "But we were all so looking forward to his testimony about the world's most flawless presidential phone call". And the upcoming reports from the DOJ Inspector General and U.S. Attorney John Durham may be devastating for Democratic politicians and activists, putting the Democrats' desperate attacks on the president in a quite different light.

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