It may be the weekend, but the impeachment inquiry rolls on nonetheless with congressional aides working overtime as a senior official at the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) defied Trump’s orders to ignore congressional subpoenas in favor of his invented claims of unlimited and unconditional executive privilege to testify in a closed-door session of questioning by the staff of the three committees running the investigation — the House Intelligence, Oversight, and Foreign Affairs committees.
Mark Sandy was expected to offer insight into the events surrounding the attempt to withhold military aid to the Ukraine government until Donald Trump’s demand that the Ukrainians launch an investigation into his political rival Joe Biden and his son was fulfilled.
Sandy entered the secure facility in the basement of the Capitol Building for his deposition just before 10 AM this morning without comment, and thus far no details of his testimony have leaked, so the public will have to wait until a transcript of his six-hour deposition is released to find out whether any new incriminating details were revealed by the OMB staffer.
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Luckily, Democrats on the impeachment case released transcripts today from the prior testimony of two other White House officials who have honored their subpoenas and at least one of them proved to contain further confirmation of Donald Trump’s personal involvement in the bribery and extortion scheme aimed at the Ukraine government.
In his deposition, Senior National Security aide Tim Morrison exposed the lie Trump told reporters last week when he said that he “hardly knew the gentleman,” referring to Gordon Sondland, the Trump donor who became Ambassador to the European Union after donating $1 million to his campaign in the 2016 election.
Morrison told his impeachment inquisitors that Sondland insisted that he was regularly in touch with Trump and was acting on the president’s direct orders.
“Every time you went to check to see whether he had, in fact, talked to the president, you found that he had talked to the president?” the transcript of Morrison’s testimony shows that one legislator asked the NSC aide.
“Yes,” Morrison responded.
Coming on the heels of the revelation that Sondland had called the president on an insecure and easily-monitored mobile phone from a public restaurant in Kyiv, Ukraine with Trump speaking so loudly that the other US foreign service aides sitting next to him could hear the president ask about the progress of convincing the Ukraine government to participate in the quid pro quo scheme, Morrison’s testimony adds to the mounting evidence of the direct involvement of the president in the extortion plans, curbing his ability to deny advance knowledge of the illegal efforts and to blame it on rogue elements in the administration.
If you had any questions as to why Donald Trump was making every effort to prevent any staffers from the executive branch from testifying before Congress, the transcript of Morrison’s deposition should provide ample reason as to why the president fears the transparency that the impeachment hearings deserve according to the Constitution.
Allowing them to testify voluntarily would be like sealing the fate of his impeachment, at least as soon as the Republicans in the Senate realize that their own electoral fates are inextricably intertwined with Trump’s. The only question left is how much additional evidence is needed before the GOP reaches that fateful realization.
You can read all of NSC aide Tim Morrison’s testimony in this transcript.
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Original reporting by Kyle Cheney at Politico.