Two More Trump Officials to Testify: Impeachment Update

Billy House

(Bloomberg) -- The three committees investigating President Donald Trump aren’t hearing from witnesses Thursday and Friday because the House is adjourned for ceremonies honoring the late Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings.

On Saturday, Philip Reeker, the acting assistant secretary of state of European and Eurasian affairs, is scheduled to appear.

Here are the latest developments:

National Security Council, Defense Officials to Testify (7:30 p.m.)

Two more witnesses are expected to give depositions to House investigators next week, an official working on the impeachment inquiry said on Thursday night.

Alexander Vindman, the director for European Affairs on the National Security Council, is to appear on Tuesday, according to the official, who was granted anonymity to discuss the scheduling. Kathryn Wheelbarger, acting assistant secretary of Defense for international security affairs, is expected to testify on Wednesday.

Vindman was part of the delegation chosen by Trump to represent the U.S. at the inauguration of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in May. Until 2017, Wheelbarger worked on the Senate Armed Services Committee when it was led by John McCain. During the George W. Bush administration, she was a counsel to Vice President Dick Cheney.

Charles Kupperman, a former deputy national security adviser, is expected to appear on Monday, and Timothy Morrison, the senior director for Europe and Russia on the National Security Council, is to testify on Thursday.

The three committees leading the impeachment investigation are in discussions with other potential witnesses, the official added.

Republican Seeks to Delay Saturday Testimony (12:39 p.m.)

Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, the top Republican on the Oversight committee, asked a State Department official to reschedule his testimony from this coming Saturday to a weekday, saying in a letter that some members may not be able to attend a weekend meeting.

Jordan said he was writing to Philip Reeker, the acting assistant secretary for European and Eurasian affairs, because majority Democrats have excluded Republicans from the scheduling of witness depositions.

Pompeo ‘Must Explain Himself,’ Schumer Says (11:21 a.m.)

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Secretary of State Michael Pompeo has serious questions to answer in the House impeachment inquiry and said “maybe he’s complicit” in Trump’s efforts to get Ukraine to probe Joe Biden and his son.

“Secretary Pompeo must explain himself,” Schumer said on the Senate floor Thursday. “He has too many questions to answer about events that concern his department, his subordinates and his actions. If he has any, any regard for his own reputation, he would do these things.”

Pompeo and the State Department have refused to comply with a subpoena for records sought by House Democrats. Schumer said the importance of cooperation was underscored by this week’s testimony from William Taylor, the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, that Trump wanted Ukraine to investigate Biden in exchange for U.S. military aid and a meeting between Trump and Ukraine’s president.

Schumer said Taylor’s supporting notes and memos remain in State Department custody and should be released. He accused Pompeo, a former House member from Kansas, of hypocrisy because as a lawmaker he wanted full disclosure from the Obama administration about the 2012 attack at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. -- Laura Litvan

Graham Measure Faults ‘Illegitimate’ Inquiry (10:16 a.m.)

Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham plans to introduce a resolution Thursday with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that condemns the “closed door, illegitimate” impeachment inquiry led by House Democrats.

Graham will announce the measure at an afternoon news conference, according to an advisory from his office.

The resolution would give Senate Republicans a chance to back Trump’s complaints over the process used in the inquiry, without having to weigh in on the substance of testimony that has emerged about the president’s alleged pressure on Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and his son.

Graham of South Carolina is up for re-election next year and has been one of Trump’s top defenders in the chamber. He told Fox News Radio Thursday morning that he and the president will travel to his home state on Friday. -- Laura Litvan

Trump Was Happy About Republican Sit-In (9:01 a.m.)

Trump was happy to see House Republicans protesting the impeachment probe, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham told Fox News on Thursday.

“He was very supportive of it,” Grisham said, adding it was “about time somebody made a very bold stand.”

About two dozen House Republicans crashed a secure room at the Capitol Wednesday in protest of closed-door testimonies -- which are, in fact, open to both Republicans and Democrats on three different committees. Depositions are being taken in the probe, which is focused on whether Trump improperly pressured Ukraine to help with a politically motivated investigation of 2020 rival Joe Biden.

Democrats expect the public part of probe to start in about two weeks. -- Kasia Klimasinska

Key Events

Trump had advance knowledge and supported a protest by Republicans who barged into the secure hearing room and delayed Wednesday’s witness testimony by about five hours, according to four people familiar with the matter.The House committees will hold public hearings after another week or two of closed-door witness statements, according to panel members Jackie Speier of California and Lacy Clay of Missouri.Laura Cooper, a deputy assistant secretary of defense, testified behind closed doors Wednesday under subpoena after the Defense Department directed her not to appear, according to an official briefed on the issue. The committees have issued so-called friendly subpoenas in such cases.

--With assistance from Laura Litvan and Kasia Klimasinska.

To contact the reporter on this story: Billy House in Washington at bhouse5@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Joe Sobczyk at jsobczyk@bloomberg.net, Anna Edgerton, John Harney

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