U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry will refuse to appear before a closed session of House of Representatives committees investigating President Donald Trump for possible impeachment, an Energy Department spokeswoman said on Friday.
"The Secretary will not partake in a secret star chamber inquisition where agency counsel is forbidden to be present," spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes said in a statement, as reported by Reuters.
"If the committee is interested in conducting a serious proceeding they are welcome to send for the Secretary's consideration an invitation to participate in an open hearing where the Department's counsel can be present and the American people can witness," she said.
As UNIAN reported earlier, a scandal erupted between the White House and U.S. Congress in the wake of media reports claiming that an intelligence whistleblower reported on Trump "promising" something to a foreign leader, guided by own political interests.
The media suggested that during a conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25, Trump could repeatedly insist on Kyiv investigating the actions of former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, now Trump's potential rival at the upcoming elections.
A spokeswoman for the House of Representatives on September 24 announced the formal launch of an impeachment inquiry.
On September 25, the White House declassified and released a transcript of the telephone conversation between Trump and Zelensky of July 25.
The transcript reads that Trump asked Zelensky to look into the case of Biden's son, Hunter, who had been part of the board of a Ukrainian gas firm.
On September 30, Zelensky said Ukraine did not conduct investigations "upon command" of other countries.
On October 17, Trump confirmed that Perry would leave the administration by the end of this year.
According to media, Trump told the House of Representatives that he was urged by Energy Secretary Rick Perry to make the July 25 phone call to Ukraine's President Zelensky.
On October 31, the lawyer of Donald Trump's former National Security Advisor John Bolton told U.S. media his client was not willing to appear voluntarily to testify before the House committee members.