Democrats announced Wednesday that they have scheduled two additional closed-door depositions this week as part of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, even as the inquiry has begun public hearings.
According to Axios, the two slated to testify before House intelligence committees in closed-door depositions are David Holmes, an official at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, and Mark Sandy, an official at the Office of Management and Budget.
Holmes, who serves as the counselor for political affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, has been scheduled to appear on Friday at 3 p.m. Sandy, who is the director of national security programs at the OMB, is scheduled to appear on Saturday at 10 a.m.
Holmes’s and Sandy’s appearances have not been confirmed and it is unclear whether they have agreed to testify.
The announcement comes as the House of Representatives held its first public hearing Wednesday as part of the inquiry. The first two witnesses were acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor and State Department Deputy Assistant Secretary George Kent.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said earlier in November that closed-door impeachment hearings will keep happening for an undetermined amount of time, even after the House voted in support of an impeachment process resolution that would allow open hearings in the inquiry.
The hearings behind closed doors, which have reportedly included House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), blocking Republicans from asking witnesses certain questions, will continue as long as they are “productive,” Pelosi told Bloomberg.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said that the impeachment process resolution would make Schiff “a de facto special prosecutor.”
The resolution gives Schiff the power to designate whether impeachment hearings should be open or closed, to allow staff members to question witnesses, to block questions from Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), to block Nunes’s requests for certain witnesses, to release transcripts of witnesses as he sees fit, and to transfer records to the House Judiciary Committee.
Trump’s phone call on July 25 with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky triggered an anonymous person to file a complaint against the president, which eventually led to Pelosi announcing an impeachment inquiry on Sept. 24.
The White House released a transcript of the phone call on Sept. 25. On the same day, Pelosi told reporters that she had not yet read the transcript of the phone call. Schiff released the complaint on Sept. 26.
It was later found that the anonymous person had contact with House Democrats before filing the complaint, The Epoch Times reported in early October.
Democrats are now working to determine whether Trump leveraged his official position for personal political gain when he requested Zelensky to investigate a server tied to CrowdStrike, the cybersecurity firm that analyzed an alleged hack of the Democratic National Committee, and to “look into” the Ukrainian business dealings of Hunter Biden, son of former Vice President Joe Biden.
Trump has defended his request for Ukraine’s assistance to look into Biden’s dealings, saying that it was intended to investigate alleged corruption, not to look for information on a political opponent.
Democrats have also accused Trump of having withheld military aid to Ukraine and floated its release as a “quid pro quo” for an investigation into the Bidens. Trump told reporters in early October that he had temporarily blocked the aid to Ukraine because of high levels of corruption and to spur European partners to shoulder a greater share of security assistance.
Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.