U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has accused Democrats of trying to "intimidate” and "bully" State Department officials in demanding depositions as part of the chamber's impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.
The requested dates for the officials to voluntarily appear before the House Foreign Affairs Committee are "not feasible,” Pompeo wrote in a letter to the panel dated October 1.
“I will use all means at my disposal to prevent and expose any attempts to intimidate the dedicated professionals," he also said.
It is unclear whether Pompeo will comply with the committee's request for documents by October 4.
Three committees of the Democratic-led House of Representatives have scheduled depositions with five current and former State Department officials over the next two weeks.
In issuing a separate subpoena last week, the chairmen of the committees warned that stonewalling their probe would be considered obstruction of Congress in its impeachment inquiry.
The impeachment inquiry was prompted by a whistle-blower's account that Trump pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, currently a Democratic front-runner in next year's presidential election.
The whistle-blower's complaint cited a July 25 phone call between Trump and Zelenskiy during which the U.S. president allegedly pushed his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate Biden and his son Hunter, who sat on the board of a Ukrainian gas company when his father worked in then-President Barack Obama's administration.
No evidence of wrongdoing has surfaced regarding either of the Bidens.
The Trump-Zelenskiy phone call came shortly after the United States withheld almost $400 million in military funding to Ukraine, causing concern that the president was using the aid approved by Congress as a bargaining chip for his personal advantage.
Trump denied any wrongdoing.
Speaking to reporters on October 1, Zelenskiy insisted that "it is impossible to put pressure on me."
The Ukrainian president said he had stressed the importance of the U.S. military aid repeatedly in discussions with Trump, adding that "it wasn't explained to me" why the money didn't come through until September.
Zelenskiy also said he has never met or spoken with Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, who has confirmed that he contacted the Ukrainian authorities about possibly investigating Biden and his son.