White House to add two aides to lead impeachment messaging

White House to add two aides to lead impeachment messaging
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The White House is expected to add a pair of aides tasked with leading its impeachment communications team as the House prepares to go public with its inquiry into President TrumpDonald John TrumpCensus Bureau spends millions on ad campaign to mitigate fears on excluded citizenship question Bloomberg campaign: Primary is two-way race with Sanders Democratic senator meets with Iranian foreign minister MORE.

Two officials confirmed to The Hill that former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and former Treasury spokesman Tony Sayegh will join the White House communications staff "to work on proactive impeachment messaging and other special projects as they arise."

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Their roles will be temporary and they will be designated as special government employees, according to a senior administration official.

The announcement comes the same day House Democrats unveiled the schedule for their first public hearings in the impeachment inquiry into Trump, with hearings scheduled for next Wednesday and Friday.

The White House has at times struggled to coalesce around a unified messaging strategy on impeachment, something that has been a point of concern for Republican allies in Congress. The mercurial Trump has largely steered the defense strategy thus far with his own brash public statements, insistence he did nothing wrong and refusal to cooperate with investigations.

Sayegh previously worked as a Republican strategist before joining the Trump administration. He served as a spokesman for Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinBloomberg proposes financial transaction tax GOP senators offering bill to cement business provision in Trump tax law On The Money: Deficit spikes 25 percent through January | Mnuchin declines to say why Trump pulled Treasury nominee who oversaw Roger Stone case | Lawmakers trade insults over Trump budget cuts MORE and led messaging efforts for the White House's tax cut push.

Bondi served as Florida's attorney general from 2011 to 2019, and Trump's foundation made a much-scrutinized donation in support of her reelection campaign in 2013. She has remained an outspoken supporter of the president since.

The president last month dismissed the need for a full-fledged team to defend him against impeachment, telling reporters, "I'm the team." But Wednesday's staffing announcement indicates the White House is taking the process more seriously as it moves into a public phase.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffTop intelligence community lawyer leaving position Senate braces for fight over impeachment whistleblower testimony Democrats fear rule of law crumbling under Trump MORE (D-Calif.) said earlier Wednesday that lawmakers initially plan to call in three witnesses next week to build their case publicly that Trump abused his office by pressuring a foreign power to investigate his domestic political opponents.

Schiff said that William Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat to Ukraine, and George Kent, a top State Department official, will testify next Wednesday. Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch is then expected to testify next Friday.

House Democrats have in recent days released transcripts of closed-door testimony from Taylor, Yovanovitch, former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine Kurt VolkerKurt VolkerGOP senators request details on Hunter Biden's travel for probe Yovanovitch retires from State Department: reports Live coverage: Senators enter second day of questions in impeachment trial MORE, Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland and former top State Department aide Michael McKinley.

Each of the transcripts have portrayed the president's personal attorney, Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiWe should listen to John Bolton The Hill's Morning Report - Sanders on the rise as Nevada debate looms Democrats worried about Trump's growing strength MORE, as serving as a second channel to pursue the president's interests in Ukraine and shown officials raising various concerns about the desire for Ukrainian officials to publicly commit to investigating the 2016 election. 

Sondland in updated testimony said that he presumed aid for Ukraine was contingent on the country publicly announcing investigations that Trump wanted.

White House aides have remained adamant that the president did nothing wrong and insisted there was no explicit quid pro quo. But both press secretary Stephanie GrishamStephanie GrishamBarr: Trump's tweets make it 'impossible for me to do my job' Hope Hicks to return to White House Record crowd numbers expected at India cricket stadium for Trump's visit MORE and White House counselor Kellyanne ConwayKellyanne Elizabeth ConwayBrazile 'extremely dismayed' by Bloomberg record Conway: Reported sexist Bloomberg remarks 'far worse' than what Trump said on 'Access Hollywood' tape Candidates make electability arguments, talk Bloomberg as focus turns to more diverse states MORE have in recent weeks acknowledged that they expect the House to move forward with impeachment.