State Dept. to provide legal aid to employees testifying in impeachment inquiry

State Dept. to provide legal aid to employees testifying in impeachment inquiry
© Anna Moneymaker

The State Department said Thursday that it will provide legal aid assistance to agency officials called to testify in the House's impeachment probe.

State Department officials confirmed to The Hill that the agency would do so partly because House Democrats were refusing to allow Trump administration attorneys to attend testimonies in the House, thereby forcing those who cooperate with House investigators to retain private counsel.

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Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoTreasury sanctions individuals, groups tied to Russian malign influence activities Navalny released from hospital after suspected poisoning Overnight Defense: Pentagon redirects pandemic funding to defense contractors | US planning for full Afghanistan withdrawal by May | Anti-Trump GOP group puts ads in military papers MORE had indicated that the State Department would take such steps earlier Thursday at a press availability in Germany, where he was attending a commemorative event of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

"[A]s for assisting our senior officials who will have legal burdens connected to all of this noise, I think we’ll have an announcement shortly that’ll make good sense and be consistent with what we’ve done previously," he said.

The State Department's decision to provide legal aid comes as the White House has refused all cooperation with the probe, citing a process that Republicans consider to be partisan and unfair to the administration.

House Democrats are investigating whether the administration held up military aid to Ukraine on the condition that it launch of an investigation into former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden on Trump's refusal to commit to peaceful transfer of power: 'What country are we in?' Democratic groups using Bloomberg money to launch M in Spanish language ads in Florida Harris faces pivotal moment with Supreme Court battle MORE and his son Hunter Biden.

Republicans and the White House have argued that aid was not withheld on the condition of an investigation being launched, while accusing Democrats of attempting to overturn the results of the 2016 election.

Morgan Chalfant contributed to this report.