Trump asked to hand over Ukraine papers
Washington - Trump said he would formally object to the impeachment investigation.
The impeachment investigation into President Donald Trump widened on Friday into a constitutional battle between the executive branch and Congress, as Democrats prepared to subpoena White House officials and the president signaled his administration would not cooperate.
Trump said he would formally object to the impeachment investigation, even as he acknowledged that House Democrats "have the votes" to proceed.
The White House was expected to send a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arguing that Congress could not mount its impeachment inquiry without first having a vote to authorise it. The letter was expected to say the administration wouldn't cooperate with the probe without that vote.
Trump said the resolution would likely pass the House, but he predicted it would backfire on Democrats. "I really believe that they're going to pay a tremendous price at the polls," he said.
Trump's comments came shortly before Democrats sent an extensive request for documents to Vice President Mike Pence about his contacts with Ukraine. Lawmakers have made Trump's request that Ukraine investigate former Vice President Joe Biden the centerpiece of the probe. A whistleblower complaint said that Trump sought to use military assistance for Ukraine to push President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate the 2020 Democratic hopeful.
The West Wing was set to allow a similar request for documents from the president's staff to go unfulfilled on Friday, likely forcing Democrats to make good on their threat to issue a subpoena for the records.
Pence spokeswoman Katie Waldman dismissed the new demand for documents, saying that given its wide scope, "it does not appear to be a serious request."
When Pelosi recently announced that the House was initiating the inquiry, she didn't seek the consent of the full chamber, as was done for impeachment investigations into former Presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton. But it is underway, and at a rapidly escalating pace.
On Thursday, House investigators released a cache of text messages that showed top US diplomats encouraging Ukraine's newly elected president to conduct an investigation linked to Biden's family in return for granting a high-profile visit with Trump in Washington. The release followed a 10-hour interview with one of the diplomats, Kurt Volker, who stepped down as special envoy to Ukraine after the impeachment inquiry had begun.