More Damaging Testimony Coming To Impeachment Inquiry Committee, And Trump Can’t Stop It

Ken AshfordL'Affaire Ukraine, Trump & Administration, Trump ImpeachmentLeave a Comment

Today the attorney for National Security Council official Tim Morrison announced that, if he receives an expected subpoena from the House impeachment inquiry, Morrison “plans to appear for his deposition”—even if Trump attempts to block him. Even though Morrison is a sitting White House official. Morrison is one of five officials up in the next round of testimony.

In April, Donald Trump called for a blanket refusal of all House subpoenas. When Don McGahn was ordered to appear before the House, he didn’t come, citing Trump’s demand. Neither did William Barr. Or Steven Mnuchin. Or Wilbur Ross. Or Kellyanne Conway. And it wasn’t just Trump’s top officials who refused to appear: Even low-ranking members of the White House staff, or former members of Trump’s campaign, turned down both a formal invitation and a subpoena for documents or testimony.

That ban on cooperation by Trump is still holding in some quarters. For example, Rudy Giuliani has said he will not respond to a subpoena if he receives one. So has Energy Secretary Rick Perry; and Trump-appointed Defense official Robert Hood refused to turn over documents in the face of a House subpoena on Oct. 16. But there are two big factors turning things around: The impeachment inquiry allows the House to potentially put more sting behind its requests, and the evidence now piling up shows that this is a fight Trump is very likely to lose.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch testified, despite last-minute attempts by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to shut her down. As happened on Thursday with Defense Department official Laura Cooper, Yovanovitch actually requested a subpoena, so that she could give her testimony while pointing out that she was legally compelled to do so. Despite a letter from the White House counsel “declaring war” on the impeachment inquiry, one official after another has appeared before the House. They include former White House adviser Fiona Hill and such Trump-friendly figures as Gordon Sondland.  

Why are Republicans going nuts in the House, filing ridiculous bills in the Senate, and launching criminal investigations of criminal investigators? Because Trump’s wall of fear is crumbling. And it’s very, very hard to maintain a conspiracy when those who have been roped into it refuse to be silent.

UPDATE: House investigators issued subpoenas today to two Office of Management and Budget officials, one of whom said this week that neither “would not be complying with deposition requests.”

The three panels conducting the impeachment inquiry want Russell Vought, the acting director of the OMB, and Michael Duffey, the agency’s head of national security, to testify early next month.

Vought said in a tweet earlier this week that neither he nor Duffey would honor a request to appear voluntarily, citing a White House letter that argued the inquiry is illegitimate. He included the hashtag “#shamprocess” in his tweet.

At issue is whether the Trump administration withheld nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine as leverage to get it to investigate the president’s domestic political rivals.

A third subpoena was issued Friday to State Department counselor T. Ulrich Brechbuhl, a close confidant of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Duffey has been told to appear for a deposition on Nov. 5. Vought and Brechbuhl have been told to appear Nov. 6.

Letters to all three officials included a warning that their failure to appear “shall constitute evidence of obstruction of the House’s impeachment inquiry and may be used as an adverse inference against the President.”