White House witnesses are no-shows in impeachment probe

Aide who heard Trump's call with Ukraine leader testified that he was told to keep quiet

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"I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a USA citizen, and I was anxious about the implications for the US government's support of Ukraine", Vindman told lawmakers on October 29, according to a copy of his prepared statement, referring to Trump's request for Zelensky to "look into" former Vice President Joe Biden and Biden's son Hunter Biden.

The committees subpoenaed Eisenberg and McCormack last week.

The White House has pushed back on permitting current and former officials to comply with requests and subpoenas from Congress in part because White House lawyers have not been permitted inside the closed-door interviews.

Last month, head White House counsel Pat Cipollone said that White House officials would not cooperate with the inquiry, arguing that it "violates fundamental fairness and constitutionally mandated due process" and privilege and immunity for the executive branch of government.

"I had three concerns about a potential leak of the MemCon: first, how it would play out in Washington's polarized environment; second, how a leak would affect the bipartisan support our Ukrainian partners now experience in Congress; and third, how it would affect the Ukrainian perceptions of the U.S. -Ukraine relationship", Morrison said in his opening statement.

Speaking to journalists before his departure for NY on Saturday, President Donald Trump said he would "certainly" invite Zelensky if the Ukrainian president wanted to come. Ellis is Eisenberg's deputy and a former Republican aide to the House intelligence panel.

Eisenberg asked Vindman whether Vindman had spoken to other officials about his concerns, and then instructed him not to have any further conversations about the matter, the people said. Vindman said he sought to correct the transcript but that his suggestions were not incorporated.

The transcript has already been released after approval was received from Ukraine.

Vindman did not reveal in his testimony who those other officials were. "There were many people listening to the call".

While Mulvaney was not on the call between Trump and the Ukrainian President in July, Blair was one of just a small group of officials on the line during Trump's controversial call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on June 25. The official described the call as "crazy", "frightening" and "completely lacking in substance related to national security".

"If you have the president's son saying, you know, we need to pull these clowns, or however he referred to me, it makes it hard to be a credible ambassador in a country", she said. But it could be helpful to the president's claim that he did not engage in a quid pro quo.

Vindman testified that he tried to get the rough transcript corrected to add the word "Burisma" and to match his notes of the call, but learned later that he was unsuccessful. It suggested the Ukrainian leader knew in advance of the call that the American president was seeking an investigation of his Democratic rival before Trump would agree to meet with Zelensky. He told lawmakers he doesn't know the reason, nor does he assume there were nefarious motives.

Vindman's interactions with Eisenberg were of keen interest to House investigators.

"You have asked whether the Committee may compel Mr. Eisenberg to testify", Engel wrote in the November 3 letter".

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