House Democrats on Tuesday released the two remaining witness transcripts from their closed-door depositions in the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, arguing the testimonies further support claims the president used political appointees to carry out policy in Ukraine, including one witness who said he was told in an email about the order to hold back military aid.
The three House committees in charge of the deposition released the transcripts from interviews with Mark Sandy, a senior Office of Management and Budget official, and Philip Reeker, the acting secretary of state in charge of European and Eurasian Affairs. Axios posted copies of both transcripts.
“The testimonies from Amb. Reeker and Mr. Sandy continue to paint a portrait of hand-picked political appointees corrupting the official levers of U.S. government power, including by withholding taxpayer-funded military assistance to Ukraine, to further the president’s own personal political agenda,” Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel, and Oversight Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, said in a statement, reports The Hill.
The House Intelligence Committee, meanwhile, will work through the Thanksgiving holiday on its report for the House Judiciary Committee to consider when deciding if articles of impeachment should be drafted against Trump.
Democrats say Trump tried to use congressional-approved military aid for Ukraine and a White House visit as leverage to persuade Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to order investigations into Joe and Hunter Biden and into allegations of interference in the 2016 presidential election.
They said Sandy, in particular, implicated the president in withholding aid, according to comments he said acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney made to him.
According to a transcript from Sandy’s deposition, he said he was told in a July 12 email that Trump as directing the hold on military support funding, reports Axios.
He was not given a reason for the hold until it was released in September but said he was told June 19 that Trump asked questions about the aid after reading a media report.
He also testified the OMB started the official process of withholding aid July 25, the day Trump spoke with Zelenskiy and asked for the investigations.
Sandy said he raised concerns about whether the freeze was in violation of the Impoundment Control Act, and was removed from the process just days later, July 30 by political appointee Mike Duffey, who told him it was because of “interest among the leadership in tracking the issues of moneys closely.”
Sandy added that an OMB legal division staffer resigned over the money hold.
According to the transcript from Reeker’s deposition, the State Department official said there was an “understanding” that Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, was feeding the president a lot of “negative information” about Ukraine and the State Department declined to release a statement supporting recalled Amb. Marie Yovanovitch. He added she was subjected to “outrageous smears.”
Trump has denied all of the allegations being made against him, saying he is the target of Democrats who have been trying to remove him from office since his 2016 election.