Impeachment: Mike Pence aide to testify; Bolton skips deposition

President Donald Trump walks along the White House lawn Wednesday to board Marine One for a trip to a campaign event in Louisiana. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI

Nov. 7 (UPI) — The first member of Vice President Mike Pence’s staff was scheduled to testify Thursday in the House impeachment investigation of President Donald Trump, but former national security adviser John Bolton skipped his hearing.

Pence aide Jennifer Williams, a career foreign service officer, is expected to comply with investigators and give testimony.

“Jennifer is a longtime dedicated State Department employee,” Williams’ attorney Justin Shur told NPR. “If required to appear, she will answer the committees’questions. We expect her testimony will largely reflect what is already in the public record.”

Williams was party to the July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that spawned a whistle-blower report and the House investigation. She also traveled with Pence to Poland in September to meet with Zelensky and discuss military aid.

U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor, who is also a key witness in the investigation, said in his testimony Zelensky asked at the meeting about hundreds of millions of dollars worth of military aid that Trump had withheld.

Investigators are trying to determine if Trump threatened to revoke the aid in a bid to pressure Zelensky to investigate political rival and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.

“The vice president did not respond substantively but said he would talk to President Trump that night,” Taylor told investigators, according to a transcript of his deposition. “[Pence] did say that President Trump wanted the Europeans to do more to support Ukraine and that he wanted Ukrainians to do more to fight corruption.”

Trump eventually released the aid and has insisted he withheld the money out of fear it could be used for corrupt purposes.

“It’s all a hoax. It’s a scam,” Trump told supporters Wednesday night at a campaign rally in Louisiana.

Pence has said he didn’t discuss the Bidens with Zelensky, but noted they did talk about corruption and “the upcoming decision the president will make” about the military aid earmarked for Ukraine.

Despite Trump’s repeated denials, testimony released this week shows that diplomat Gordon Sondland indicated to Zelensky’s aides at the Poland meeting the military aid was contingent on Zelensky’s government announcing investigations of Biden and his son Hunter, a former Ukraine gas company executive.

Bolton did not appear for his scheduled deposition. Investigators scheduled a 30-minute session Thursday for Bolton, perhaps an indication they expected him to skip it, as the Trump administration has blocked a number of witnesses from cooperating.

Investigators announced Wednesday they will hold the first public impeachment hearings next week. Taylor is scheduled to appear again on Wednesday.


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