“The State Department sent a letter last night to Congress which is our initial response to the document request. We will obviously do all the things we are required to do by law. I was a member of Congress once,” Pompeo told reporters in Greece at a joint press conference with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias.
“Article 1 has a certain set of powers and article 2 has an obligation to make sure that we protect officials at the State Department. And sadly, there have been congressional inquiries that have harassed and abused State Department employees by contacting them directly and seeking to have them provide documents, documents that belong to the State Department, that are official U.S. government records and asking them to do so without saying, ‘hey don’t bother calling the state department lawyers, just talk to us directly.'”
“That is harassment, and I will never let that happen to my team,” Pompeo said.
Pompeo said that his team would respond faster than the responses he was used to when he was a representative during President Barack Obama’s time in office.
“I remember once when I was on that side and we were looking for documents, I remember precisely how long it took for those documents to come across. We are going to beat that, we are going to be more responsive than the Obama administration was, in the years that preceded this particular congress,” he said.
Responding to a question about the inquiry, he said, “I think it’s very clear and I don’t want to belabor this, I am here in Greece on this important mission, but I think that there is clearly politics involved in this.”
“This administration was incredibly focused on making sure that we worked with Ukraine in a way that was appropriate, and it is not only appropriate but it is our duty to investigate if we think there was interference in the election of 2016,” he said.
The impeachment inquiry was launched by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) after reports of a complaint filed against President Donald Trump emerged.
The complaint, which was later released, relied on secondhand information and media reports to allege Trump of abusing the office of the president. The complaint largely focused on a phone call Trump had with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. A transcript of that call was also released.
During the call, Trump asked Zelensky to look into CrowdStrike, a technology firm hired by Democrats to probe a network intrusion, and former Vice President Joe Biden, who admitted last year that he threatened to withhold $1 billion in aid to Ukraine in 2016 if the Ukrainian president then did not oust a prosecutor who was probing Burisma, an energy company that paid Biden’s son Hunter Biden from 2014 to 2019.
As part of the impeachment investigation, Pompeo was subpoenaed on Sept. 27 over documents relating to the Trump administration’s dealings with Ukraine.
Pompeo said that he would comply with the subpoena but denounced House Democrats’ methods of trying to seek information, alleging contacts with former and current State Department personnel “can be understood only as an attempt to intimidate, bully, and treat improperly.”
Pompeo said he’s become aware of staff on the committee sending “intimidating communications” to people at the department outside the normal channels.
“Let me be clear: I will not tolerate such tactics, and I will use all means at my disposal to prevent and expose any attempts to intimidate the dedicated professionals whom I am proud to lead and serve alongside at the Department of State,” he wrote in a letter to Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Engel and Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) responded to the letter by accusing Pompeo of “protecting the president” and said any attempts to block the impeachment inquiry “will constitute evidence of obstruction of the impeachment inquiry.”
Reuters contributed to this report.