WASHINGTON — Rudy Giuliani’s attorney informed Congress Tuesday that the former mayor will not comply with the House’s subpoena as part of its impeachment probe, saying ‘‘Giuliani will not participate because this appears to be an unconstitutional, baseless, and illegitimate ‘impeachment inquiry.’ ‘‘
President Donald Trump also complained about a lack of ‘‘transparency’’ in the accelerating Democrats-led impeachment inquiry as House investigators heard from another key State Department official behind closed doors at the Capitol.
George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of state responsible for Ukraine, met with lawmakers to testify about a campaign by Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, to pressure Ukraine into investigating the president’s political rival, former vice president and 2020 Democratic candidate Joe Biden, and his son Hunter.
In a television interview that aired Tuesday, Hunter Biden conceded that it might have been a mistake to serve on the board of a Ukrainian gas company while his father was vice president, but insisted that he did not have an ‘‘ethical lapse.’’ He accused Giuliani and Trump of pressing ‘‘a ridiculous conspiracy’’ related to his tenure.
House Democrats are scheduled to huddle behind closed doors later Tuesday about the status of the inquiry.
Giuliani tweeted the official letter from his attorney, Jon Sale, a Miami lawyer and one-time law school classmate of Giuliani, to counsel for the House committee overseeing the impeachment probe that says the former mayor won’t comply with congressional subpoenas.
‘‘I will not participate in an illegitimate, unconstitutional, and baseless ‘impeachment inquiry,’ ‘‘ Giuliani wrote in a tweet.
In the letter, Sale said that Giuliani agrees with the reasons White House counsel Pat Cipollone laid out earlier this month in explaining that the White House would not cooperate with Democrats’ impeachment inquiry.
‘‘In addition, the subpoena is overbroad, unduly burdensome, and seeks documents beyond the scope of legitimate inquiry,’’ Sale said. ‘‘Moreover, documents sought in the subpoena are protected by attorney-client, attorney work-product, and executive privileges.’’
Giuliani, a former U.S. attorney, also confirmed that Sale was no longer representing him and that he’d only retained him ‘‘for the sole purpose of analyzing the request and responding.’’
Giuliani added, ‘‘At this time, I do not need a lawyer.’’
Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., tweeted that the House should hold Giuliani in contempt.
‘‘Take it from a real lawyer, subpoenas aren’t optional. The House should hold Rudy in contempt,’’ she tweeted.
Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-N.J., argued that in light of the Giuliani news, ‘‘it’s time for Congress to dust off our inherent contempt power.’’
In an exchange with reporters before a meeting at the Capitol, Energy Secretary Rick Perry defended Trump’s communications with Ukraine.
‘‘I was involved in that more than anybody,’’ Perry said. ‘‘And I never saw or heard anything that was untoward - not by the president, not by anybody.’’
During their July phone call, Trump urged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to open an investigation into Biden. Trump later said that Perry had asked him to make the call; Perry told reporters that he did it so that the two could talk about energy issues.
House Democrats have subpoenaed Perry as part of their impeachment inquiry. Perry declined to say Tuesday whether he will comply by the Oct. 18 deadline, saying only, ‘‘We will address it as the White House deems appropriate.’’
He also declined to speculate on whether Giuliani has been helping or hurting Trump.
‘‘I don’t know; you’d have to ask Mr. Giuliani,’’ he said.
After a two-week break away from Washington, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., used his opening remarks on the Senate floor to discredit the impeachment inquiry against Trump as an ‘‘obsession’’ of House Democrats who will not proceed fairly.
‘‘Even by their own partisan standards, House Democrats have already found new ways to lower the bar,’’ McConnell said. ‘‘This is about the most consequential process the House of Representatives could possibly engage in, overruling American voters and nullifying an election.’’
McConnell went on to mimic complaints from House Republicans that they are not given subpoena powers and that Trump’s attorneys are not invited to participate in the hearings.
In 2015, the Republicans changed the rules to take away subpoena rights from the minority party. Also, the House’s proceedings are not a trial. Trump’s counsel would have a chance to present evidence and cross examine witnesses if it moves to a Senate trial.
Still, McConnell accused Democrats of maintaining a partisan double standard when it comes to constitutional fair play.
In addition to congressional inquiries, federal prosecutors are also examining Giuliani’s interactions with two men who were arrested last week and charged with campaign finance violations, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman. The two were assisting Giuliani in his work in Ukraine. Giuliani has said he is not aware of any criminal investigation of his activities.
As House Democrats returned from the recess Tuesday, party leaders began reaching out to lawmakers who have been on the fence about impeachment, asking if they would support a formal vote launching an impeachment inquiry, according to two Democratic aides.
The effort is being led by Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., and no decision has been made on whether to schedule a vote, said the aides, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private deliberations. One aide said the outreach, first reported by Politico, was a matter of ‘‘getting a read on where these members are’’ following the recess.
House Democrats planned to huddle behind closed doors late Tuesday about the status of the inquiry. It has been three weeks since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., announced the launch of the formal impeachment probe.
But Pelosi has refrained from calling a formal vote launching an inquiry - a step that was taken in the impeachment proceedings targeting presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton but is not strictly necessary under the Constitution, federal law or House rules.
Several Democratic lawmakers have suggested that the House schedule a vote to lessen criticism from Republicans, but others are wary of bowing to Republican pressure on the issue - noting that Trump’s defenders will simply move on to criticize other aspects of the probe.
Some aides are also reticent to change course after House lawyers who are seeking access to grand jury records generated by former Special Counsel Robert Mueller recently argued to a federal judge that a formal vote is not necessary for the House to enjoy the full legal rights it is afforded in an impeachment proceeding.
Meanwhile, Trump complained Tuesday about a lack of ‘‘transparency’’ in the accelerating Democrats-led impeachment inquiry as House investigators heard from another key State Department official behind closed doors at the Capitol.
He also suggested that rising household income and employment numbers should be considered amid the effort to impeach him.
The U.S. Census Bureau announced last month that median household income was $63,179 in 2018, not statistically different from the 2017 median, following three consecutive years of annual increases.
Several Democrats sought to keep the story line of the impeachment inquiry focused Tuesday as the number of witnesses continued to grow.
‘‘The question is simple: is it acceptable for a President to pressure a foreign government and undermine our elections?’’ tweeted Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif. ‘‘I say no, and that is why I support impeachment. @HouseDemocrats will hold this president accountable.’’
Michael McKinley, the former senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, will testify before House investigators leading the impeachment inquiry on Wednesday morning, according to people familiar with the decision.
McKinley resigned last week amid worsening morale at the State Department and widespread concern that Pompeo has done little to defend diplomats who became ensnared in efforts by Trump to get Ukraine to investigate the Bidens.
McKinley will come to the Hill with an intimate understanding of how Pompeo wielded power in the highest echelons of the State Department, given his proximity to the top diplomat on his many trips abroad.
On Thursday, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, is scheduled to appear.