Michael McKinley, a former senior adviser to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, has begun testifying as part of the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives' impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump.
McKinley, a long-serving State Department official, arrived early on October 16 to be questioned by lawmakers who are probing a July 25 phone call between Trump and his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
During the call, Trump asked Zelenskiy to work with his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and Attorney General William Barr on probing Biden and his son Hunter for alleged corruption.
Lawmakers were expected to grill McKinley in the closed-door deposition for details on Pompeo's recalling of former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch earlier in 2019.
Meanwhile, Zelenskiy on October 16 told AFP that "Ukraine won't interfere" in the impeachment inquiry. The controversy has put the Ukrainian leader in a position of having to balance efforts to retain good relations with Trump and the White House while not angering Democrats, who control the House of Representatives.
"As the president of Ukraine, I won't interfere with events in other countries, unlike some others may try. We, as Ukraine, will do nothing," he said.
On October 15, George Kent, a longtime U.S. diplomat who fought corruption in Ukraine and elsewhere, said under oath that he raised concerns about efforts by Giuliani to push Ukraine to investigate the Bidens.
Kent said he was sidelined by the White House on Ukraine policy and eventually told to "lay low" after raising his concerns over Giuliani.
According to Democratic Representative Gerry Connolly, who was present for at least part of the deposition, Kent, a deputy assistant secretary of state who worked on Ukraine and five other countries, said Trump's allies in the operation were clear in showing the president wanted Zelenskiy and his government to cooperate.
While testimony from key witnesses continues, Vice President Mike Pence and Giuliani said on October 15 they won’t comply with the impeachment investigation.
Through his lawyer, Pence said he will not provide a long list of documents related to the Ukraine case that three House of Representatives’ panels have requested.
Giuliani also said he will not cooperate and could face contempt of Congress charges.
On October 17, Gordon Sondland, the U.S. envoy to the European Union, is scheduled to testify before the House panels.
His testimony has been anticipated ever since Democrats released text messages between Sondland and other ambassadors, including former special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker, discussing the possibility of Zelenskiy securing a visit to the White House.