WASHINGTON - Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump's personal lawyer who is accused of leading a shadow foreign policy in Ukraine, defied a congressional subpoena Tuesday for documents that House Democrats sought as part of the impeachment inquiry.
Giuliani has acknowledged meeting with Ukrainians and encouraging an investigation of Trump's political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden. Three committees - Foreign Affairs, Intelligence and Oversight and Reform - are focusing their portion of the investigation on Trump's call July 25 in which he urged Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Biden while withholding military aid to that country.
The committees demanded documents from Giuliani dealing with "the extent to which President Trump jeopardized national security by pressing Ukraine to interfere with our 2020 election and by withholding security assistance provided by Congress to help Ukraine counter Russian aggression."
But Giuliani's lawyer, Jon Sale, notified Congress by letter that he won't comply. Sale called the inquiry "unconstitutional, baseless and illegitimate," and said the documents are protected by attorney-client privilege and executive privilege, despite the fact that Giuliani doesn't work for the government.
"If they enforce it, then we'll see what happens," Giuliani told ABC News.
Giuliani tweeted Tuesday that Sale was a lifelong friend, but that he hired him solely to deal with the document request. "At this time, I do not need a lawyer," Giuliani said.
The committees also subpoenaed documents from the Pentagon and the White House Office of Management and Budget about how the military aid for Ukraine was withheld. Defense Secretary Mark Esper has said he would comply.
But White House counsel Pat Cipollone notified House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on Oct. 8 that the administration would refuse to cooperate for lack of a House vote to authorize the impeachment inquiry. A senior administration official said the Office of Management and Budget will not comply, pursuant to the White House letter.
Trump has described the call with Zelensky as "perfect" and said he is absolutely justified in calling for the investigation of corruption. He has also defended Giuliani. The White House notified Pelosi on Oct. 8 that the administration would refuse to comply with the House investigation that Trump contends is partisan and unconstitutional, for lack of a House vote to authorize the inquiry.
The subpoena deadline coincided with a private deposition for George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of State. Giuliani had criticized Kent in May during an interview with a Ukrainian news website by claiming without evidence that the diplomat was working with liberal philanthropist George Soros to find "dirty information" on Trump campaign officials. Kent previously served as deputy chief of mission in Kyiv and spent years working on anti-corruption efforts across Europe.
Giuliani had told a Ukrainian journalist that Trump removed Marie Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine, "because she was part of the efforts against the president." Giuliani further targeted Yovanovitch in a packet of "disinformation" that he gave to State Department officials earlier this year. The dossier was full of debunked allegations and political smears targeting the president's perceived enemies, and it eventually made its way to lawmakers leading the impeachment probe. Giuliani tweeted Monday that Yovanovitch was "a real problem."
Yovanovitch testified privately to the three committees Friday.
The deadline came nearly a week after the Oct. 9 arrest of two Giuliani associates, Ukrainian-born Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman of Belarus, business partners who were charged with campaign-finance violations. Parnas and Fruman were charged with showering contributions on Republican campaign committees, including $325,000 in May 2018 for a political-action committee that supports Trump's re-election, while allegedly hiding the source of the money.
Parnas and Fruman introduced Giuliani to a key Ukrainian prosecutor in January in New York, according to numerous media reports. The two men have also been subpoenaed for documents.
Energy Secretary Rick Perry also faces a Friday subpoena deadline from the three committees for documents about Ukraine. Trump had said he made the July 25 call at Perry's suggestion, as the energy secretary pressed Zelensky to fire board members of the state-owned energy company Naftogaz, while championing their replacement with Parnas and Fruman.
Contributing: David Jackson
More about Rudy Giuliani's role in the impeachment inquiry:
Criminal case against Giuliani's associates darkens cloud over Trump's personal attorney, White House
This week in the impeachment probe: Giuliani associates arrested, White House blocks inquiry and more
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Rudy Giuliani defies subpoena in impeachment probe of President Trump