Mul­vaney stands up Democrats in im­peach­ment probe

The Saline Courier - - COURIER CLASSIFIED­S - As­so­ci­ated Press

WASH­ING­TON — Act­ing White House Chief of Staff Mick Mul­vaney has stood up Democrats in their im­peach­ment in­quiry, skip­ping his 9 a.m. de­po­si­tion as Democrats wrap up closed-door in­ter­views and move into a pub­lic phase of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Democrats sub­poe­naed Mul­vaney late Thurs­day as the White House sig­naled that he wouldn’t ap­pear. The White House in­structed its of­fi­cials not to com­ply with the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, which is look­ing at Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s deal­ings with Ukraine.

An of­fi­cial work­ing on the in­quiry said the House in­tel­li­gence panel sub­poe­naed Mul­vaney be­cause other tes­ti­mony in­di­cated he “could shed ad­di­tional light on the pres­i­dent’s abuse of the power of his of­fice for his per­sonal gain.”

The per­son de­clined to be iden­ti­fied in or­der to dis­cuss the con­fi­den­tial sub­poena.

Mul­vaney said in a news con­fer­ence last month that the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s de­ci­sion to hold up mil­i­tary aid was linked to Trump’s de­mand for the in­ves­ti­ga­tions. He later walked back his re­marks, but Democrats said that was tan­ta­mount to a con­fes­sion and have cited it as ev­i­dence in their in­quiry.

The sub­poena came after for­mer na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser John Bolton failed to ap­pear for an in­ter­view Thurs­day. Democrats say they will use the no-shows as ev­i­dence of the pres­i­dent’s ob­struc­tion of Congress.

Even though some of the most high-pro­file wit­nesses have failed to ap­pear — En­ergy Sec­re­tary Rick

Perry also de­clined to show up this week — Democrats have in­di­cated they think they al­ready have am­ple tes­ti­mony about Trump’s con­duct on Ukraine. A slew of cur­rent and for­mer of­fi­cials from the State Depart­ment and White House have ap­peared over the last sev­eral weeks and largely cor­rob­o­rated the same nar­ra­tive — that Trump had del­e­gated his lawyer, Rudy Gi­u­liani, to guide U.s.-ukraine pol­icy and that the two men were fo­cused on pres­sur­ing Ukraine as the ad­min­is­tra­tion with­held mil­i­tary aid from the coun­try.

One Demo­cratic mem­ber of the in­tel­li­gence panel, Wash­ing­ton Rep. Denny Heck, said Thurs­day that there is “al­ready a moun­tain of ev­i­dence” in the probe.

“I think there’s more ev­i­dence to the ef­fect that the pres­i­dent shook down Ukraine, tried to cover it up, and threat­ened to and then with­held se­cu­rity as­sis­tance to Ukraine than there is ev­i­dence that the sun will come up in the East to­mor­row,” Heck said.

And wit­nesses have con­tin­ued to come in. On Thurs­day, an aide to Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence ap­peared un­der sub­poena and was de­posed for more than four hours.

Jen­nifer Wil­liams, a ca­reer for­eign ser­vice of­fi­cer de­tailed to Pence’s of­fice from the State Depart­ment, was one of sev­eral White House aides who were lis­ten­ing in on a July phone call be­tween Trump and Ukraine Pres­i­dent Volodymyr Ze­len­skiy in which Trump asked the new leader for the in­ves­ti­ga­tions, ac­cord­ing to an ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial who re­quested anonymity to dis­cuss the con­ver­sa­tion.

That call, in which Trump asked Ze­len­skiy to in­ves­ti­gate po­lit­i­cal ri­val Joe Bi­den and his fam­ily as well as Ukraine’s role in the 2016 U.S. pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, is at the cen­ter of the im­peach­ment probe.

Though Trump has said there was no “quid pro quo,” sev­eral of the wit­nesses, in­clud­ing top Ukraine diplo­mat Wil­liam Taylor, have tes­ti­fied that it was their un­der­stand­ing that Ukraine would not re­ceive mil­i­tary as­sis­tance or a cov­eted Oval Of­fice visit un­til it met the pres­i­dent’s de­mands. A tran­script of Taylor’s closed­door de­po­si­tion was re­leased pub­licly Wed­nes­day.

Law­mak­ers leav­ing

Wil­liams’ de­po­si­tion said her tes­ti­mony lined up with the ac­counts of oth­ers.

“It just never ceases to amaze me how all of these peo­ple in every ma­te­rial as­pect cor­rob­o­rate one an­other,”

Heck said.

Repub­li­can Rep. Mark Mead­ows of North Carolina said Wil­liams was asked about Pence’s Septem­ber visit to Warsaw, Poland, where he met Zelin­skiy. Pence has said he and the Ukrainian pres­i­dent did not dis­cuss Bi­den dur­ing their closed-door meet­ing, but they did dis­cuss the White House’s de­ci­sion to halt se­cu­rity aid meant to counter Rus­sian ag­gres­sion.

Speak­ing to re­porters in

New Hamp­shire on Thurs­day, Pence stood by Trump and said if Amer­i­cans read the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s rough tran­script of the call they will find “there was no quid pro quo, the pres­i­dent did noth­ing wrong.” Pence called the im­peach­ment in­quiry a “dis­grace.”

In­ves­ti­ga­tors are wrap­ping up the pri­vate in­ter­views as they pre­pare to start pub­lic hearings next week. House In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee Chair­man Adam Schiff an­nounced Wed­nes­day that three State Depart­ment wit­nesses will ap­pear in two hearings next Wed­nes­day and Fri­day: Taylor, ca­reer depart­ment of­fi­cial Ge­orge Kent and Marie Yo­vanovitch, the for­mer U.S. am­bas­sador to Ukraine. Yo­vanovitch was ousted in May on Trump’s or­ders and Taylor re­placed her; both have tes­ti­fied about their con­cerns with the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s pol­icy on Ukraine.

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In this Oct. 17, 2019, file photo, act­ing White House chief of staff Mick Mul­vaney speaks in the White House brief­ing room in Wash­ing­ton.

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