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Trump Impeachment Probe Hears More Evidence As Congress Set To Formalize Proceedings

Updated

Catherine Croft, a specialist on Ukraine with the State Department, arrives for a closed-door deposition at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on October 30.

The full U.S. House of Representatives will vote on October 31 to formalize impeachment inquiry proceedings as a second currently serving White House official is expected to testify before congressional panels that are looking into whether President Donald Trump committed impeachable offenses.

Ahead of his deposition, Tim Morrison, Trump’s top adviser for Russian and European affairs, is reportedly resigning, a senior administration official has told several media outlets.

Former national-security adviser John Bolton, a Republican hawk, was summoned to appear next week, but his lawyer told CNN that he will not appear without a subpoena.

Bolton, who served from April 2018 until Trump dismissed him on September 10, has emerged as a key figure who tried to stymie internal White House efforts to have Ukraine investigate the president’s political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, and his son Hunter.

Those efforts are at the heart of the impeachment inquiry and stem from a July 25 telephone call in which Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate the Bidens.

Trump has denied wrongdoing and has called the inquiry a sham.

The House has been gathering evidence to determine whether Trump misused the power of his office for personal political gain and, if so, whether those actions constitute "high crimes and misdemeanors" that merit impeachment and removal from office under the Constitution.

National Security Council lawyer John Eisenberg and his deputy, Michael Ellis, have also been asked to appear and testify on November 4.

Meanwhile, two U.S. career diplomats testified on October 30.

Catherine Croft, a specialist on Ukraine at the State Department who previously worked on the National Security Council in the White House, said she received calls from a former Republican congressman-turned-lobbyist who told her that then-Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch should be fired.

In her remarks, Croft said lobbyist Robert Livingston characterized Yovanovitch as an "[former President Barack] Obama holdover" who was associated with billionaire liberal activist George Soros.

Allies of the president have promoted unsubstantiated allegations of disloyalty against Yovanovitch, who was removed from her post in Kyiv in May.

Others include Trump's son Donald Trump Jr. and former Republican congressman Pete Sessions.

"It was not clear to me at the time -- or now -- at whose direction or at whose expense Mr. Livingston was seeking the removal of Ambassador Yovanovitch," Croft said.

Separately, at his Senate confirmation hearing as the next ambassador to Russia, Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan said he was aware there were outside forces seeking to smear Yovanovitch.

He specifically named Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani for being part of a "shadow Ukraine policy."

Sullivan said he was also given a dossier containing misinformation via the White House whose contents smeared Yovanovitch and which "didn't provide a basis for taking action against our ambassador, but I wasn't aware of all that might be going on in the background."

Another Ukraine expert at the State Department, Christopher Anderson, testified the same day.

With reporting by NPR, CNN, AP, Reuters, and dpa
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