Trump named Robert Blair as the special representative for international telecommunications policy and for work on the Trump administration’s 5G efforts, the White House announced Monday.
“In this capacity, Mr. Blair will lead the strategic prioritization of United States efforts to promote a secure and reliable global communications system,” the White House said in a statement. “He will coordinate interagency efforts and serve as a liaison to industry, non-governmental, and international stakeholders to promote the development, deployment, and operation of the next-generation telecommunications infrastructure that will provide the security, data privacy, and stability required for a fully interconnected world.”
Blair will continue to serve as Mulvaney’s senior national security adviser, according to the White House statement.
The promotion came nearly two months after Blair refused to cooperate with the House Intelligence Committee’s impeachment investigation into Trump, defying a Nov. 3 congressional subpoena to appear the next day before lawmakers. Blair used to work in the House as a staff member of the Appropriations Committee.
Blair was one of many U.S. officials on Trump’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, which prompted the intelligence whistleblower complaint that helped launch the House’s impeachment process. Mulvaney was not on the call, but the acting chief of staff admitted in October to reporters that Trump pressed for a quid pro quo with Ukraine.
The White House did not respond to HuffPost’s request for comment on whether Blair’s promotion was directly linked to his aiding in obstructing Congress during the impeachment investigation.
In the call, Trump pressured Zelensky to investigate a political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, and his son Hunter Biden. A long list of witnesses who appeared before the House Intelligence Committee ― some who were also on the July 25 call ― provided testimony that led Democrats to believe that the president withheld nearly $400 million in military aid as leverage to compel Ukraine to investigate the Democratic presidential candidate.
The full House voted last week along party lines to impeach Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress related to the inquiry into the Ukraine call. The process now moves to a trial in the GOP-controlled Senate, though House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said she’ll delay sending over the articles of impeachment and hold off on naming impeachment managers until Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) agrees to a “fair” trial.
Blair is one of four witnesses who didn’t testify before the House that Senate Democrats want to subpoena for the trial. The other three are Mulvaney; John Bolton, former national security adviser; and Michael Duffey, associate director for national security at the Office of Management and Budget.
McConnell has said he does not want any witnesses at the trial and said post-impeachment that Pelosi was “too afraid” to send the articles over to his chamber. But Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Thursday that a Senate trial without “essential” witnesses and documents would be “a sham trial.”