Two More White House Officials Don’t Appear to Testify in Impeachment Probe

November 5, 2019 Updated: November 5, 2019

Two more White House officials hadn’t appeared to testify to the House in the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump as of 10 a.m. Tuesday, and lawmakers weren’t expecting them to appear later in the day.

Michael Duffey, associate director of the White House budget office, wasn’t going to comply with House Democrats requests for a deposition, Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget Russ Vought said last month.

Wells Griffith, a special assistant to Trump and senior director for international energy and environment for the National Security Council, was also scheduled to be deposed on Tuesday but hadn’t shown up.

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), a member of the House Judiciary and House Oversight committees, told reporters just before 10 a.m. that neither Griffith nor Duffey had appeared and were unlikely to do so.

adam schiff in washington
House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) speaks to reporters in Washington in an Oct. 28, 2019, file photograph. (Erin Scott/Reuters)

Three other officials are slated to testify on Wednesday. They are Vought and two State Department personnel: T. Ulrich Brechbuhl, counselor of the department, and David Hale, under secretary of state for political affairs.

The apparent refusal by both White House officials to testify Tuesday came after four White House officials failed to appear on Monday.

Robert Blair, assistant to President Donald Trump and senior adviser to acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney; Brian McCormack, associate director for natural resources energy and science at the Office of Management and Budget; John Eisenberg, deputy counsel to the president for National Security Affairs; and Michael Ellis, senior associate counsel to the president, declined to appear.

Blair’s attorney cited the order by Trump’s White House to cite executive privilege while Eisenberg’s counsel told House Democrats in a letter that “the President has instructed Mr. Eisenberg not to appear at the deposition.”

A former White House aide, Charles Kupperman, also didn’t appear for a scheduled interview in October and has asked a federal judge to rule whether he should obey Trump’s direction or comply with House Democrat efforts.

Trump makes his way to board Air Force One
President Donald Trump makes his way to board Air Force One before departing from Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on Nov. 4, 2019. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

The White House has called the impeachment inquiry illegitimate while instructing officials not to comply with requests for depositions, including subpoenas. House Democrats have said the inquiry is necessary because Trump appeared to abuse his office during a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in July.

An anonymous person filed a complaint accusing Trump of the abuse, triggering the inquiry and prompting the White House to release a transcript of the call.

Among Trump’s alleged offenses is his request to Zelensky to “look into” former Vice President Joe Biden and Biden’s son, Hunter Biden. Biden in 2016 told then-Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko that his country wouldn’t get $1 billion in aid unless Viktor Shokin, a prosecutor, was ousted.

Shokin, who said he resigned due to pressure from Poroshenko, who cited Biden, was probing the energy company Burisma, where Hunter Biden worked from 2014 to 2019.

Both Bidens have denied wrongdoing. Zelensky’s new top prosecutor said in October that his office is reviewing cases that were closed, including the one looking at Burisma.

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber
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