Defense Secretary Mark Esper Will Not Comply With House Subpoena

Defense Secretary Mark Esper Will Not Comply With House Subpoena
Lawmakers sent a subpoena to Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Oct. 7 seeking documents and information ​as part of the impeachment probe.

In a major reversal from previous comments, Defense Secretary Mark Esper no longer intends to comply with a subpoena involving the House's ongoing impeachment inquiry. 

House Democrats subpoenaed Esper on Oct. 7 seeking documents related to the White House's decision to withhold authorized military aid from Ukraine. They wanted that information by Tuesday.

But the Pentagon reportedly sent a letter to the chairmen of the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and oversight committees on Tuesday saying a "number of legal and practical concerns" barred Esper from complying.

According to NBC News, the letter pointed to the lack of an official, full-House vote on the impeachment inquiry as a reason Esper couldn't comply. It also reportedly said some of the information requested "appears to consist of confidential Executive Branch communications that are potentially protected by executive privilege."

Earlier this week, Esper told the CBS show "Face The Nation" that the Defense Department would comply with the subpoena, saying: "We will do everything we can to cooperate with the Congress. Just in the last week or two, my general counsel sent out a note ... to ensure documents are retained."

Esper wasn't the only government official to skip a subpoena deadline on Tuesday. Vice President Mike Pence, President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and the Office of Management and Budget also refused to comply with congressional subpoenas.