WASHINGTON — Congress has left for a two-week recess, but some Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee told BuzzFeed News they plan to stay in Washington, DC, to continue work on impeachment.
“I can tell you it’s going to be a very busy couple weeks ahead,” committee chair Adam Schiff told reporters Friday morning, adding that he would be in DC for part of next week. “We’re going to be trying to schedule hearings, witness interviews. We will be working on subpoenas and document requests. We’ll be busy.”
On Friday, Schiff, along with Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Eliot Engel and Oversight Committee Chair Elijah Cummings subpoenaed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo demanding documents related to Ukraine by Oct. 4. (The House is not scheduled to return from recess until Oct. 15.)
Additionally, a press release from the three chairs said the committees have scheduled depositions for five State Department officials over the next two weeks.
California Rep. Jackie Speier, a member of the Intelligence and Oversight committees, said she had canceled the first week of her planned travel over the break. “We’re expected to be here over the recess,” she said. “This is urgent. This is not something we can wait around and contemplate.”
On Thursday, Connecticut Rep. Jim Himes, another Intelligence Committee member, told BuzzFeed News the committee was hoping to hold hearings over recess. He said on Friday that the members were “working on it.”
Earlier this week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that, after months of tamping down calls for impeachment from members of her own caucus, she was on board and that the House would be moving forward with a formal impeachment inquiry. Six committees are responsible for the investigation, including the Intelligence Committee.
Some activists and members called for leadership to cancel the two-week recess (which is timed around Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah) altogether following Pelosi’s announcement.
“We should not be going home for the next two weeks,” New York Rep. Kathleen Rice said in an interview with BuzzFeed News on Thursday. “We need to exhibit the sense of urgency that this situation demands. We don’t need to be going home.”
In a letter to Pelosi and Nadler, a coalition of progressive groups led by Stand Up America and By the People pushed for all members to stay in DC.
“The American people cannot afford to wait for Donald Trump to be impeached, and Congress cannot slow walk this process,” the letter, which was shared with BuzzFeed News, said. “[We] respectfully demand that House leadership cancel the upcoming two-week congressional recess and immediately get to work impeaching this lawless president. In place of this recess, we urge you to begin an aggressive hearing schedule, swiftly draft articles of impeachment, and vote to impeach Trump this fall.”
The impeachment fever hit Capitol Hill this week after the Washington Post reported that Trump put a hold on $400 million in aid to Ukraine in the days before a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. When the two leaders did speak, according to a non-verbatim transcript of the call released by the White House on Wednesday, Trump explicitly asked for “a favor” and pushed for information on former vice president Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden, who had business in Ukraine.
On Thursday, the whistleblower complaint that triggered the first stories about the call was released publicly. It outlines concerns raised by White House officials who say that Trump has used his office “for personal gain,” a decision they said they were “deeply disturbed” by. The complaint also alleges that White House officials tried to cover up the call.
House Democrats say they want the inquiry to move “expeditiously,” and while Pelosi said Thursday she has not given the relevant committees any deadline for finishing their work, Rep. Maxine Waters, who chairs the House Financial Services Committee, told BuzzFeed News’ AM to DM she and the other chairs believe they can finish their work before the end of the year.
This story was updated with news of the committees subpoenaing Pompeo.