WASHINGTON, D.C. – All four White House officials who are scheduled to appear before Democratic-led committees on Monday to give depositions as part of an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump will not show up, according to a report. National Security Council lawyers John Eisenberg and Michael Ellis will not testify, CNN reported citing a source with knowledge of the situation.
The other two officials are Robert Blair, assistant to the President and senior adviser to the acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, and Brian McCormack, associate director for natural resources, energy & science at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
Also, an Energy Department spokesperson announced on Friday that Energy Secretary Rick Perry, who was scheduled to give depositions on Wednesday, will not turn up either. According to an administration official, Eisenberg is not showing up because of executive privilege, while Blair, Ellis and McCormack will not appear because they cannot have an administration lawyer present.
“Blair is caught between the assertions of legal duty by two coequal branches of government, a conflict which he cannot resolve,” Blair’s attorney, Whit Ellerman, told CNN Saturday.
Another source told CNN that two other OMB officials, Michael Duffey and Russell Vought, will not appear later this week. The refusals by more witnesses to give testimony in the impeachment inquiry could set the stage for a battle between the White House and lawmakers over their power to carry out the investigations.
Meanwhile, House investigators are signaling they are ready to start the next phase of their probe as a number of House Democrats told CNN they have already gathered enough evidence to advance the proceedings to the public stage.
“This isn’t an Agatha Christie novel – this is a shakedown,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Democrat from Maryland who has participated in the closed-door depositions.
“I think we have established an overwhelming case. But we have got very careful prosecutors on the staff who rightfully want to leave no witness unexamined, and they want every detail to be nailed down as much as possible. That’s good,” he noted.
“But at a certain point we have to say … there’s just been an overwhelming case that high crimes and misdemeanors have likely been committed against our country,” Raskin added.
Democrats launched an impeachment inquiry in September after a whistleblower alleged the Republican President pressured Ukraine to investigate his main Democratic rival, former US vice president Joe Biden. That request by Trump, and accusations he conditioned nearly $400 million in “military aid” to Ukraine on the political favor form the basis of the impeachment inquiry that now threatens his presidency.
House Democrats claim Trump has abused his office for personal gain and jeopardized national security by asking Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate Biden and his son, Hunter, who had served as a director for Ukrainian energy company Burisma. On the other hand, despite clear political gains for Trump, it has been due time to reveal the criminal activities of the Biden war clan.