The White House confirmed that Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney will not testify on Friday in the House impeachment inquiry, according to counselor Kellyanne Conway.
“I’m told no,” Conway told reporters on Wednesday at the White House when she was asked about whether he would testify.
“The hearings should have been public from the beginning. They can’t cure a bad process,” Conway said. “The process has been ill-conceived from the beginning.”
The three Democrat-led House committees overseeing the probe have sent a letter to Mulvaney asking him to appear for a closed-door deposition on Friday.
“Based on evidence gathered in the impeachment inquiry and public reporting, we believe that you possess substantial first-hand knowledge and information relevant to the House’s impeachment inquiry,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif), House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), and acting House Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) said in a joint letter (pdf).
Their letter reads, “Specifically, the investigation has revealed that you may have been directly involved in an effort orchestrated by President Trump, his personal agent, Rudolph Giuliani, and 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.”
They also warned Mulvaney and the White House that if he refuses to show up, the House might use that against President Trump in its impeachment inquiry.
Mulvaney’s Oct. 17 press conference, according to the letter, would be the subject of questioning. At the time, he was asked about whether the United States held back aid to Ukraine.
“President Trump … doesn’t like spending money overseas, especially when it’s poorly spent. That is exactly what drove this decision. I’ve been in the office a couple of times with him talking about this. He said, ‘Look, Mick, this is a corrupt place,’” Mulvaney told reporters at the time.
The impeachment inquiry is focused on whether Trump held up military aid to Ukraine to put pressure on Kyiv to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. Trump has denied the claims.
On Wednesday, Conway suggested that House Democrats started the inquiry to search for an alleged offense committed by the president.
“Why would we try to be complicit in an impeachment inquiry when we don’t know what it’s about?” Conway asked.
Conway also answered a question about whether she would testify, saying she didn’t know.
Last month, the White House said in a letter to the three Democratic panels and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) that it will not cooperate.
“President Trump and his administration reject your baseless, unconstitutional efforts to overturn the democratic process,” the letter stated. “Your unprecedented actions have left the president with no choice. In order to fulfill his duties to the American people, the Constitution, the Executive Branch, and all future occupants of the Office of the Presidency, President Trump and his administration cannot participate in your partisan and unconstitutional inquiry under these circumstances.”
The White House document added: “The president has a country to lead. The American people elected him to do this job, and he remains focused on fulfilling his promises to the American people.”