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By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Mick Mulvaney (Image source: Public domain)
As the impeachment inquiry heats up, investigators are asking to hear from bigger and bigger names, after making household names out of previously-unheard-of names in the State Department.
The House Democrats leading the inquiry are opening up the investigation to the public this week. In preparation for public testimony, they are releasing testimony from their closed-door sessions, having released transcripts of depositions from former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch; a former senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Michael McKinley; U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland; and former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker.
They opened it up even further on Tuesday by also requesting to hear from Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney. House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA), House Foreign Affairs Chair Eliot Engel (D-NY), and Acting House Oversight Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) wrote to him and asked him to appear on November 8.
He is not expected to comply with this request, though the letter spelled out that his "failure or refusal to appear at the deposition including at the direction or behest of the president, shall constitute further evidence of obstruction of the House's impeachment inquiry."
The letter told Mulvaney that they believe he has "substantial first-hand knowledge and information" that is relevant to the House's investigation.
The letter notes that testimony has shown that they believe the acting chief of staff may have been involved in Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani's effort, along with others, to "withhold a coveted White House meeting and nearly $400 million in security assistance in order to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to pursue investigations that would benefit President Trump's personal political interests, and jeopardized our national security in attempting to do so."
The evidence investigators have collected so far indicates Mulvaney may have coordinated efforts with Sondland, Giuliani, and others to preface a White House meeting between Trump and Zelensky on Ukrainians investigating former Vice President Joe Biden, his son Hunter, the Ukrainian energy company Hunter did work for, and possible Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election to help former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The letter refers to a July 10 meeting when Sondland told Ukrainian officials to carry out investigations if they wanted to get Zelensky a meeting with Trump. After the meeting, former national security adviser John Bolton told a National Security Council staff member "to notify the chief lawyer for the National Security Council about a rogue effort" by Sondland, Giuliani, and Mulvaney to pressure Ukraine to investigate Trump's political opponents.
Also referred to is Bolton instructing an NSC staffer to tell the NSC attorneys, "I am not part of whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney are cooking up." Investigators believe the "drug deal" being referenced is the effort to pressure Ukraine to launch the investigations.
As more evidence of his involvement, the letter explains that in July 2019, Trump "ordered you to freeze security assistance to Ukraine, and you reportedly conveyed the president's order 'through the budget office to the Pentagon and the State Department.' "
This request most likely isn't a surprise to Mulvaney, as the investigators were listening when he said during a press briefing on October 17, that he ordered the military aid to be held until Ukraine investigated "the corruption related to the DNC server" in the 2016 election. He denied that it had anything to do with the Bidens.
Mulvaney also indicated such things were business as usual in Washington. "We do that all the time with foreign policy. ... And I have news for everybody: Get over it. There's going to be political influence in foreign policy."
The investigators believe Mulvaney's "statements to the American public on October 17 were nothing less than a televised confession that President Trump's order to freeze Ukraine security assistance was explicitly linked to Ukraine pursuing investigations as part of an effort to bolster the President's 2020 reelection campaign."
It would be extremely notable if Mulvaney chose to appear, as the Trump administration has blocked most officials from appearing.
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