National Security

Democrats subpoena White House, State Dept. officials for depositions in impeachment inquiry

House Democrats have subpoenaed three Trump administration officials for depositions as part of their impeachment inquiry into President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, lawmakers announced Friday.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) issued subpoenas for two officials with the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and one State Department official.

{mosads}The subpoenas come as Democrats expand their probe into whether Trump pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch two investigations that would benefit him politically.

Schiff subpoenaed Michael Duffey, OMB’s associate director for National Security Programs, and OMB Acting Director Russell Vought to give depositions on Nov. 5 and 6, respectively.

House Democrats sent Duffey and Vought letters on Oct. 11 requesting they voluntarily appear for depositions on Oct. 21. Vought responded at the time by saying neither he nor Duffey would comply with the requests.

“I saw some Fake News over the weekend to correct. As the WH letter made clear two weeks ago, OMB officials – myself and Mike Duffey – will not be complying with deposition requests this week,” Vought tweeted Monday, with the hashtag “#shamprocess.”

Duffey is considered a key figure in the administration’s decision to withhold aid from Ukraine.

The administration gave Duffey the authority to stall Ukraine aid after career civil servants in the White House raised concerns that they did not have the legal power to delay such funds, The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month.

Democrats also issued a subpoena to T. Ulrich Brechbuhl, a State Department counselor, for a Nov. 6 deposition. Brechbuhl previously told the three House committees leading the impeachment inquiry that he would not appear voluntarily.

Brechbuhl is one of the officials named by William Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat to Ukraine, in his detailed 15-page opening statement that was obtained by The Hill and other outlets when he testified behind closed-doors on Tuesday.

Taylor said in his testimony he understood that Trump was withholding nearly $400 million in security aid to Ukraine in order to secure a commitment from Zelensky that he would investigate 2016 election interference as well as Burisma, the Ukrainian energy company that employed Biden’s son Hunter Biden.

Democrats have described Taylor’s testimony as one of the most powerful depositions they have heard yet in their impeachment probe.

Taylor named Brechbuhl as someone he brought his concerns to amid the withholding of the Ukraine aid.

Taylor said he relayed his concerns to Brechbuhl after hearing from two top Zelensky aides who were “alarmed” that Giuliani told them the phone call between the two presidents was unlikely to happen.

He then brought forward the issue of aid to Brechbuhl in mid-August.

“By mid-August, because the security assistance had been held for over a month for no reason that I could discern, I was beginning to fear the the long-standing U.S. policy of strong support for Ukraine was shifting. I called Counselor Brechbuhl to discuss this on August 21. He said that he was not aware of a change of U.S. policy but would check on the status of the security assistance,” Taylor said in his opening statement.

In a sign Democrats are moving quickly with their inquiry, they are seeking to have the three administration officials testify during the first week of November, when the House will be in recess.

Updated at 2:37 p.m.

Tags Adam Schiff depositions Donald Trump impeachment inquiry Kiev Office of Management and Budget Subpoena Ukraine
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