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Top State Department official arrives for testimony in impeachment probe

A top State Department official arrived at the Capitol Tuesday morning to testify on President TrumpDonald TrumpBlinken holds first calls as Biden's secretary of State Senators discussing Trump censure resolution Dobbs: Republicans lost in 2020 because they 'forgot who was the true leader' MORE's dealings with Ukraine, the latest witness in Democrats' fast-moving impeachment inquiry into allegations of presidential wrongdoing.

George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, oversees administrative policy in a bloc of Eastern European countries, including Ukraine, which has emerged as the focal point of the growing investigation.

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Trump and members of his inner circle have come under increased scrutiny following allegations that the administration recalled the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, over her concerns that leading figures — including Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiMy Pillow CEO banned by Twitter The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - GOP senator retires Dominion Voting Systems files .3B defamation suit against Giuliani MORE, Trump's personal lawyer — were pressing Ukrainian leaders to deliver political favors to the president.

Kent had tried to protect Yovanovitch from the internal smear campaign building against her, according to documents delivered to Congress earlier this month by the State Department's inspector general.

He is being deposed by three separate House committees leading the Democrats' impeachment inquiry: Intelligence, Oversight and Reform and Foreign Affairs.

Heading into the secure room in the Capitol basement where the depositions are taking place, Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffLobbying from the center Glenn Greenwald warns against media censorship amid concerns over domestic terrorism Biden to keep Wray as FBI director MORE (D-Calif.) declined to comment on the coming witness.

Kent is the fourth witness in the impeachment investigation. Earlier in the month, lawmakers heard from 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, the administration's former special envoy to Ukraine; Yovanovitch testified on Friday, defying the administration's effort to block her appearance; and the committees on Monday heard lengthy testimony from Fiona Hill, Trump's former top Russia analyst on the National Security Council. Hill stepped down voluntarily in July before Trump's phone call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Separately, the Intelligence Committee has also interviewed Michael Atkinson, the inspector general of the U.S. intelligence community.

The details surrounding the closed-door depositions have largely been kept under wraps. Democrats have released certain details of the various testimonies — including a string of text messages, delivered by Volker, between top diplomats discussing the Ukraine affair — which they say verify the allegations against the president.

"The arrows continue to point in just one direction, which is that a crime was committed — extortion, bribery, soliciting campaign help," Rep. Eric SwalwellEric Michael SwalwellLobbying from the center House formally sends impeachment to Senate, putting Trump on trial for Capitol riot Swalwell compares Trump to bin Laden: They 'inspired and radicalized' MORE (D-Calif.), a member of the Intelligence Committee, said Monday. "It was confessed to by the president. And there's an active cover-up going on right now."

Yet Democrats have refused Republican entreaties to release the full transcripts of the interviews and make the hearings public, drawing sharp criticism from GOP leaders arguing that the transparency would lead to Trump's exoneration.

"The tragedy here — the crime here — is that the American people don't get to see what's going on in these sessions," Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden argues for legislative patience, urgent action amid crisis Portman's exit underscores Republican identity crisis Portman planned exit sets off Ohio free-for-all MORE (Ohio), senior Republican on the Oversight and Reform Committee, said Monday, ahead of Hill's testimony.