Pence aide who testified in impeachment inquiry to leave VP's office

By Natasha Bertrand and Daniel Lippman

A national security aide to Vice President Mike Pence and key witness in the House’s impeachment of President Donald Trump will be leaving her post in the vice president’s office early to join Central Command, according to two people with knowledge of her plans.

The aide, Jennifer Williams, will be leaving the White House as soon as Monday and plans to join CENTCOM in the spring as a deputy foreign policy adviser, one of the people said. She will be advising the command on Middle East policy issues and has had the job lined up since last fall.

Marc Short, Pence's chief of staff, said that Williams had "requested in writing an early departure," noting that her "original scheduled departure date was the end of March."

"The Office of the Vice President is evaluating her request," Short said.

Williams was one of the few White House officials who listened to the July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that led to Trump’s impeachment. She said that Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political opponents were “unusual and inappropriate,” and “shed some light on possible other motivations” for the president’s order to freeze military aid to the U.S. ally.

She also provided investigators with a firsthand account of Pence’s Sept. 1 meeting with Zelensky, and testified that the very first question Zelensky asked Pence was about the military aid.

Williams also submitted additional classified evidence to House impeachment investigators about a phone call between Pence and Zelensky, according to House impeachment manager Adam Schiff.

Schiff (D-Calif.) asked the vice president to declassify the supplemental testimony last month, asserting that “there is no legitimate basis for the Office of the Vice President to assert that the information … is classified.”

Schiff brought up Williams’ supplemental testimony again on Wednesday, confirming that it contains information about Russia’s role in promoting the unsubstantiated theory that Ukraine rather than the Kremlin interfered in the 2016 election.

Pence’s office has so far refused to turn over a slew of documents that investigators requested in October.