House Democrats have subpoenaed acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney in their impeachment investigation, demanding his testimony Friday as they wrap up closed-door interviews and move into a public phase of the investigation.
Despite the late-night subpoena, Mulvaney isn’t expected to appear for the interview Democrats have scheduled. The White House instructed its officials not to comply with the investigation, which is looking at President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine.
An official working on the inquiry said the House Intelligence Committee subpoenaed Mulvaney because other testimony indicated he “could shed additional light on the president’s abuse of the power of his office for his personal gain.”
The person declined to be identified in order to discuss the confidential subpoena.
Mulvaney said at a news conference last month that the administration’s decision to hold up military aid was linked to Trump’s demand for Ukraine to open investigations, including one targeting Joe Biden, a potential Trump rival in 2020. Mulvaney later retracted some of his original remarks, which Democrats said were tantamount to a confession and have cited it as evidence in their inquiry.
The subpoena comes after former national security advisor John Bolton failed to appear for an interview Thursday. Democrats say they will use the no-shows as evidence of the president’s obstruction of Congress, a potential article of impeachment.
Even though some of the most high-profile witnesses have failed to appear — Energy Secretary Rick Perry also declined to show up this week — Democrats have indicated they think they already have ample testimony about Trump’s conduct on Ukraine. A slew of current and former officials from the State Department and White House have appeared over the last several weeks and largely corroborated the same narrative — that Trump had delegated his personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani to guide U.S.-Ukraine policy and that the two men were focused on pressuring Ukraine to benefit Trump politically as the administration withheld military aid from the country.
One Democratic member of the Intelligence panel, Rep. Dennis Heck of Washington, said Thursday that there is “already a mountain of evidence” against the president.
“I think there’s more evidence to the effect that the president shook down Ukraine, tried to cover it up, and threatened to and then withheld security assistance to Ukraine than there is evidence that the sun will come up in the east tomorrow,” Heck said.
And witnesses have continued to come in. On Thursday, an aide to Vice President Mike Pence appeared under subpoena and was deposed for more than four hours.
Jennifer Williams, a career foreign service officer detailed to Pence’s office from the State Department, was one of several White House aides who were listening in on a July phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in which Trump asked the new leader for the investigations, according to an administration official who requested anonymity to discuss the conversation.
That call, in which Trump asked Zelensky to investigate Biden and his son Hunter as well as Ukraine’s purported role in the 2016 U.S. presidential election — all allegations without any known substantiation — is at the center of the impeachment inquiry.
Though Trump has said there was “no quid pro quo,” several of the witnesses, including top U.S. diplomat to Ukraine William Taylor, have testified that it was their understanding that Ukraine would not receive military assistance or a coveted Oval Office by Zelensky visit until it met the president’s demands. A transcript of Taylor’s closed-door deposition was released publicly Wednesday.
Lawmakers leaving Williams’ deposition said her testimony lined up with the accounts of others.
“It just never ceases to amaze me how all of these people in every material aspect corroborate one another,” Heck said.
Republican Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina said Williams was asked about Pence’s September visit to Warsaw, where the vice president met Zelensky. Pence has said he and the Ukrainian president did not discuss Biden during their closed-door meeting, but they did discuss the White House’s decision to halt security aid meant to counter Russian aggression.
Speaking to reporters in New Hampshire on Thursday, Pence stood by Trump and said if Americans read the administration’s rough transcript of the call they will find “there was no quid pro quo; the president did nothing wrong.” Pence called the impeachment inquiry a “disgrace.”
Investigators are wrapping up the private interviews as they prepare to start public hearings next week. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank) announced Wednesday that three State Department witnesses will appear in two hearings next Wednesday and Friday: Taylor, career department official George Kent and Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. Yovanovitch was ousted in May on Trump’s orders and Taylor replaced her; both have testified about their concerns about the administration’s policy on Ukraine.