POLITICS

These Key Witnesses Won’t Appear At The Impeachment Hearings

Several top officials with potentially valuable knowledge have refused to come to Capitol Hill.
Several key officials have refused to testify in public impeachment hearings.
Several key officials have refused to testify in public impeachment hearings.

The House impeachment inquiry has already featured top diplomats and national security officials sharing damning testimony about President Donald Trump’s alleged efforts to secure a quid pro quo arrangement with Ukraine’s government. When the hearings conclude, we will have heard from numerous administration officials about the scandal ― but there are many others we won’t hear from. 

The White House declared in early October that it won’t cooperate with the hearings. Top officials have ignored congressional subpoenas and the State Department has ordered employees not to testify. Although some officials have defied the White House and met with investigators, the administration’s effort to stymie the inquiry has succeeded in blocking access to several important witnesses. Many of these are officials who could provide the kind of firsthand accounts of Trump’s actions that Republicans have accused the inquiry of lacking. 

These are some of the most important figures in impeachment who you likely won’t see in the hearings:

National Security Officials

Several top national security officials have not agreed to testify in the hearings, including former national security adviser John Bolton and his deputy Charles Kupperman. Bolton was extremely wary of Trump and his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani’s effort to pressure Ukraine to investigate political rival and 2020 candidate Joe Biden, according to testimony from other officials, and sought to distance himself from being implicated in it. 

Bolton reportedly told National Security Council official Fiona Hill to speak with White House lawyers about Giuliani’s shadow policy in Ukraine and the problems it was creating, according to Hill’s testimony. He also expressed concern about U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland and acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney’s involvement in pressuring Ukraine.

“I’m not part of whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney are cooking up,” Bolton said, according to Hill.  

Bolton’s lawyer added earlier this month that the former national security adviser and longtime Washington hawk was part of “many relevant meetings and conversations” related to the impeachment inquiry. But Bolton has refused to appear unless a federal judge rules on whether White House officials are obligated to testify or should be granted immunity. House Democrats have so far decided not to subpoena Bolton, fearing it would result in a protracted legal fight.

Deputy national security adviser Charles Kupperman, who has been a close Bolton ally for decades, also isn’t set to testify after he filed a lawsuit asking a judge whether he should be compelled to comply with a subpoena to appear at the hearings. House Democrats withdrew their subpoena for Kupperman after he filed the suit, seeking to avoid delays in the hearings. Kupperman was on the July 25 call between Zelensky and Trump.

These officials would also potentially have knowledge of why the transcript of the Trump-Zelensky call was moved to a highly classified server, in what was a deviation from standard White House practices.

The White House Staff

House investigators subpoenaed Mulvaney earlier this month. He has refused to comply, however, citing a Justice Department argument that current and former senior White House officials should have immunity from congressional subpoenas.

Multiple officials have implicated Mulvaney in seeking a quid pro quo arrangement with Ukraine, testifying that Mulvaney appeared to have approved a White House meeting between Trump and Zelensky on the condition that Ukraine’s government investigate Biden. Mulvaney also drew attention to himself last month when he told reporters to “get over it” regarding the scandal, and said “we do that all the time” about quid pro quos. He later attempted to backtrack on his admission that there was a quid pro quo. Also refusing to testify is Mulvaney’s senior adviser, Robert Blair, a top White House national security aide who listened in on the July 25 call. 

White House attorney and legal adviser to the National Security Council John Eisenberg has also failed to show up to a deposition and is not scheduled to appear in hearings this week. Eisenberg allegedly moved the transcript of the Trump-Zelensky call to a highly classified server after top National Security Council official for Ukraine Lt. Col. Vindman raised concerns about the call, according to Vindman’s testimony.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry similarly refused to show up for closed-door depositions and ignored a congressional subpoena. Perry was one of three officials who allegedly made up an unofficial back channel that the Trump administration used to communicate with Ukrainian officials and push for investigations into the Bidens. Perry was also running a side campaign to connect his American political backers with Ukraine’s government and energy sector, and two of his supporters secured major oil and gas deals during his efforts.