WASHINGTON (AP) — House investigators Tuesday asked President Donald Trump’s acting chief of staff to appear before the impeachment inquiry , reaching to the highest levels of the White House as they prepare to release more transcripts from the closed-door proceedings.
Investigators say Mick Mulvaney’s news conference last month amounted to “nothing less than a televised confession” of Trump’s efforts to have Ukraine investigate Democrats and Joe Biden as the White House was blocking military funding for the Eastern European ally.
Trump says he did nothing wrong, and Mulvaney later walked back his remarks.
The White House has instructed its officials not to comply with the impeachment inquiry being led by House Democrats. It is uncertain if Mulvaney will appear.
On Tuesday, the committees were expected to release more transcripts of previous interviews as they push the closed proceedings into the public, with hundreds of pages of testimony from two top diplomats deeply involved in the Ukraine matter.
Kurt Volker, the former special envoy to Ukraine, and Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, both testified for hours in private. The two diplomats were involved in White House policy toward Ukraine and aware of the July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy that’s central to the impeachment inquiry.
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the chairman of the Intelligence committee, said the panels are releasing the word-by-word transcripts so the American public can see it all for themselves.
“This is about more than just one call,” Schiff wrote Tuesday in an op-ed in USA Today. “We now know that the call was just one piece of a larger operation to redirect our foreign policy to benefit Donald Trump’s personal and political interests, not the national interest.”
Public hearings could begin as soon as next week in the impeachment inquiry that Trump says is illegitimate and Republicans in Congress call a sham.
The release of more transcripts comes as the Trump administration resumes its stonewalling of the inquiry. Two more White House officials, an energy adviser and a budget official, declined to appear Tuesday before investigators, even after one received a subpoena.
Most of those who have testified before the House panel are from the ranks of the State Department, including recalled U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovonavitch, whose testimony was released Monday. Diplomats have testified to the mounting concerns in the State Department over Trump’s interest in having a foreign ally investigate Biden.
Volker and Sondland both testified they were disappointed after briefing Trump at the White House upon their return from Zelenskiy’s inauguration in May as a new leader of the young democracy vowing to fight corruption.
That pivotal May 23 meeting raised red flags when Trump told them to work with Rudy Giuliani, his personal attorney, on Ukraine issues.
Text messages from the two men, along with another diplomat, William Taylor, who also testified in the impeachment inquiry, revealed in striking detail the administration’s actions toward Ukraine.