White House official arrives to testify in impeachment probe

A top White House budget official arrived in the Capitol on Saturday morning to testify privately in the Democrats' swift-moving impeachment investigation into President TrumpDonald TrumpRomney blasts end of filibuster, expansion of SCOTUS McConnell, GOP slam Biden's executive order on SCOTUS US raises concerns about Iran's seriousness in nuclear talks MORE's handling of foreign policy in Ukraine.

Mark Sandy, a senior official at the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), is expected to lend new insights into Trump's decision to freeze almost $400 million in U.S. aid to Kyiv over the summer as he was simultaneously pressing Ukrainian leaders to open investigations that might help the president politically.

The White House has sought to prevent administration officials from cooperating in the impeachment investigation, which it deems invalid. Sandy is the latest in a long list of officials to defy that blockade and agree to be interviewed under a Democratic subpoena.

Sandy entered the Capitol at roughly 9:45 a.m. and was escorted into the secure room, three floors below ground, where staffers of three House committees — Intelligence, Oversight and Reform, and Foreign Affairs — have been conducting their private depositions since Oct. 3.

He did not comment as he passed a crowd of reporters and a bank of TV cameras.

He will not be delivering an opening statement, his lawyer Barbara Van Gelder said Saturday morning.

Sandy's name has popped up in previous depositions in reference to his role in freezing the aid to Ukraine in July. Laura Cooper, a senior Pentagon official overseeing Ukraine, testified last month that it was Sandy's signature that appeared on the official memo imposing the hold.

The private deposition process is far different from the open hearings Democrats launched this week, featuring public testimony from some of the key witnesses who had previously appeared behind closed doors. Three of those witnesses have appeared so far: top diplomats William Taylor, George Kent and Marie YovanovitchMarie YovanovitchBlinken tells State Department staff 'I have your back' Trump has discussed possible pardons for three eldest children, Kushner: report Former Giuliani associates plead not guilty to new fraud charges MORE. Eight others are expected to testify publicly next week.

Sandy's appearance makes him the 17th witness to be deposed in private.