Former Pompeo aide testifies as Trump impeachment probe roars on

The Democrats' impeachment inquiry sprinted forward on Wednesday as a former State Department official arrived at the Capitol for what's expected to be another round of marathon testimony into the Trump administration's dealings with Ukraine.

Michael McKinley, a former top adviser to Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoReport: Pompeo had secret meeting with GOP donors in London The shifting impeachment positions of Jonathan Turley The Hill's Morning Report - Dem dilemma on articles of impeachment MORE, is slated to discuss issues surrounding Pompeo's role in the administration's pressure campaign to get Ukrainian leaders to investigate one of Trump's leading political opponents, former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump to hold campaign rally in Michigan Castro hits fundraising threshold for December debate Buttigieg draws fresh scrutiny, attacks in sprint to Iowa MORE.

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That campaign, which resulted in the removal of Marie Yovanovitch from her post as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine in May, is at the center of the Democrats' hard-charging investigation into whether Trump sought to enlist foreign leaders to boost his reelection chances next year.

The inquiry has been fueled by allegations, lodged by a government whistleblower, that Trump had also threatened to withhold almost $400 million in U.S. aide to Ukraine if President Volodymyr Zelensky failed to comply with the administration's request.

Pompeo was reportedly on the July 25 phone call between Trump and Zelensky, when Trump asked his Ukrainian counterpart for "a favor" — a reference to opening the Bien investigation.

McKinley, a career diplomat who resigned last week, had been serving as U.S. ambassador to Brazil in 2018 when Pompeo brought him back to Washington to serve as an informal liaison between the agency brass and the department's career diplomats. His resignation was reportedly in protest of Pompeo's failure, as perceived by a growing number of State Department employees, to protect diplomats from the administration's Ukraine operations amid allegations that they were politically motivated.

With his testimony, McKinley becomes the fifth witness to appear before Congress since Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy Pelosi 'Don't mess with Mama': Pelosi's daughter tweets support following press conference comments Bloomberg: Trump should be impeached On The Money: Congress races to beat deadline on shutdown | Trump asks Supreme Court to shield financial records from House Democrats | House passes bill to explicitly ban insider trading MORE (D-Calif.) announced the launch of a formal impeachment inquiry just over three weeks ago. The closed-door deposition is being led by Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffWhite House adopts confident tone after Pelosi signals go on impeachment Democrats could introduce articles of impeachment next week The shifting impeachment positions of Jonathan Turley MORE (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, while two other panels — Oversight and Reform and Foreign Affairs — are also participating.

McKinley's appearance follows that of Kurt VolkerKurt VolkerPush to investigate Bidens sets up potential for Senate turf war Senate confirms Brouillette to replace Perry as Energy secretary How Democrats' missing witnesses could fill in the Ukraine story MORE, former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine; Yovanovitch; Fiona Hill, who was formerly Trump's top Russia expert at the National Security Council; and George Kent, a deputy secretary of State, who testified for roughly 10 hours on Tuesday.

Democrats have emerged from each of the lengthy depositions with claims that the witness corroborated the whistleblower's charges, lending fuel to the Democrats' impeachment inquiry and fanning sentiments that the drafting of impeachment articles are all but inevitable.

Republicans, meanwhile, have defended Trump by focusing on the process, accusing Democrats of conducting a "clown show" — not an impeachment investigation — since the testimony is all being conducted privately and Pelosi has refused to stage a floor vote to launch the impeachment inquiry formally.

Olivia Beavers contributed.