On Friday, the Department of Energy sent a letter to the Democratic chairmen of the House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees that had issued subpoenas for documents, explaining that they are covered by executive privilege. It also said that to open an inquiry the House still has to formally vote on a resolution.
Perry, who announced his resignation on Thursday and will leave his post at the end of the year, has insisted that it has nothing to do with Trump’s phone call to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25 that’s now at the centre of the Democrats impeachment investigation.
Though Perry has acknowledged that he did urge President Trump to call the Ukrainian leader, the purpose was to talk about energy issues and not the Biden family.
Mark Jones, a political science professor at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, believes that when it comes to Ukraine the Energy Secretary’s involvement was, indeed, limited to requesting the call, which means he has nothing to worry about in regard to the impeachment process.
“Perry is one of the longest-serving cabinet secretaries, and it was only a matter of time before he resigned. I suspect the Ukraine incident moved forward a resignation which otherwise would have occurred toward the end of the year,” Jones said.
James W. Riddlesperger, a professor of political science at Texas Christian University who’s followed Perry’s career for many years, shared a similar view, stating that, perhaps, the controversy over Ukraine pushed Perry to retire a little earlier than he had planned, but it wasn’t much of a surprise.
At the same time, Professor Riddlesperger noted that it will be interesting to find out what his role was in the Ukrainian phone call.
“His position is that he was trying to arrange a phone call regarding energy policy, not about the investigation of Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Of course, the discussion about the Bidens became the central controversy about that call. Whether Perry knew anything about that topic remains to be seen.”
“I’m sure Congress will try to sort out Perry’s role, though we don’t yet know if he will testify, and if he does, what his testimony might be,” the scholar noted.
On September 24, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi officially launched a formal impeachment inquiry into President Trump following allegations from an alleged CIA whistleblower that Trump pressured the Ukranian leader to investigate former vice president and now Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter during their July phone conversation.
According to the whistleblower complaint, Trump asked Zelensky to look into Biden’s role in shutting down an investigation by Ukraine’s chief prosecutor into one of Ukraine’s largest natural gas companies that his son Hunter was a paid board member of.
Trump has described the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry as a “witch hunt.”