Politics

Acting White House budget chief and appointee who froze Ukrainian aid refuse to testify to Congress

The acting White House budget chief said Monday that both he and the political appointee responsible for freezing aid to Ukraine would refuse to testify in the House impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump.

“I saw some Fake News over the weekend to correct,” acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget Russell Vought tweeted. “As the WH letter made clear two weeks ago, OMB officials—myself and Mike Duffey—will not be complying with deposition requests this week.”

Vought personally delegated the authority to freeze $400 million in aid to Duffey, associate director of national security programs in the budget office, after career budget staff questioned the legality of putting a hold on funds that had already been appropriated by Congress. 

Vought had already declined to comply with a congressional subpoena to turn over documents related to the decision to freeze the funds, which reportedly “puzzled and alarmed” officials at the State and Defense departments. Vought and Duffey join other Trump officials and allies who have rejected House Democrats’ requests and subpoenas, including Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, acting Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, and Trump personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

On Tuesday, however, the top U.S. diplomat in Kyiv, Bill Taylor, is expected to testify before the House Intelligence, Oversight, and Foreign Affairs committees. Taylor’s texts with special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker and Trump donor-turned-ambassador Gordon Sondland documented efforts to solidify a meeting between Trump and the new Ukrainian president in exchange for investigations. Taylor famously asserted that he thought it was “crazy” to condition aid on delivery of a political favor.  

House investigators also hope to hear on Wednesday from Philip Reeker, the acting assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs.

Thursday’s lineup includes Alexander Vindman, director for European affairs for the National Security Council, and Laura Cooper, a deputy assistant secretary of defense.

Friday’s schedule includes Suriya Jayanti, a U.S. Foreign Service officer in Kyiv, and Tim Morrison, the NSC’s senior director for Russia and Europe.




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