OMB official to testify in impeachment probe if subpoenaed after others refused

OMB official to testify in impeachment probe if subpoenaed after others refused
© Greg Nash

Mark Sandy, a career official at the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), plans to testify in connection with the House impeachment inquiry on Saturday if he is issued a subpoena.

“If Mr. Sandy is subpoenaed, he will appear for a deposition this Saturday,” Sandy’s attorney Barbara Van Gelder told The Hill on Thursday evening in an email. 

Sandy would be the first OMB official to appear in the inquiry. House committees have also sought testimony from politically appointed OMB officials but none have complied with subpoenas for their appearances. 

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The Washington Post was first to report that Sandy would appear if issued a subpoena.

An official working on the impeachment inquiry said Wednesday that Sandy had been scheduled to testify at a closed-door deposition on Saturday. It has been common practice by House Democrats to issue subpoenas for witness testimony, however, as with other witnesses, the issuance of a subpoena is unlikely to become public until the day of Sandy’s testimony. 

As the first OMB official testifying in connection with the inquiry, Sandy could shed light on the decision by the White House to place a temporary hold on $400 million in military aid to Ukraine over the summer.

House Democrats are investigating whether President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenators demand more details from Trump on intel watchdog firing Overnight Health Care: Trump steps up attack on WHO | Fauci says deaths could be lower than first projected | House panel warns federal stockpile of medical supplies depleted | Mnuchin, Schumer in talks over relief deal Trump says he'll look into small business loan program restricting casinos MORE and those around him sought to use the aid as a cudgel to press Kyiv to open investigations that could help him politically. Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate 2016 election interference and the business dealings of former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenThe Hill's Campaign Report: Sanders exits, clearing Biden's path to nomination Former Clinton staffers invited to celebrate Sanders dropping out: report Sanders exit leaves deep disappointment on left MORE's son in Ukraine on a July 25 phone call. 

A handful of witnesses have testified that OMB announced the suspension aid on July 18 but offered no reason why. Some, like William Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, said the aid had been tied to a push by Trump attorney Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump: Tough times but progress being made Giuliani touts experimental coronavirus treatment in private conversations with Trump Trump team picks fight with Twitter, TV networks over political speech MORE to get Kyiv to pursue investigations into 2016 election interference and Burisma, the Ukrainian gas company that employed Hunter Biden on its board. 

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U.S. ambassador to the European Union Gordon SondlandGordon SondlandTrump takes heat for firing intel watchdog during pandemic White House withdraws nomination for Pentagon budget chief who questioned Ukraine aid hold Juan Williams: Will the GOP ever curb Trump? MORE has also said he told a top Zelensky aid in early September that security assistance would likely not flow unless Ukraine made a public statement about launching investigations; Ukraine's foreign minister reportedly said Thursday that Sondland did not explicitly link the Biden investigation to security aid, however. 

The aid was eventually released in September and Ukraine did not make a public statement about the investigations sought by Giuliani. 

Trump has admitted to ordering the hold but said he did so because he was concerned European countries weren’t giving enough support to Ukraine in comparison to the United States. Trump has also denied any quid pro quo in his interactions with Ukraine.  

The White House has successfully blocked a number of key officials from testifying who could shed more light on the decision, including acting chief of staff Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyOne year in, Democrats frustrated by fight for Trump tax returns Meadows joins White House in crisis mode Meadows resigns from Congress, heads to White House MORE, who indicated at a press conference last month that the aid was held up in part because Trump sought an investigation by Ukraine into a debunked theory about the 2016 hack of the Democratic National Committee. 

Mulvaney later walked his remarks back, saying there was no quid pro quo with respect to the investigation and blaming the media for misinterpreting his remarks.

While Sandy would be testifying in private on Saturday, House Democrats have already taken their impeachment inquiry public, receiving testimony from career State Department officials Wednesday and on Friday.