The White House’s promise to stonewall a congressional impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump will get an early test on Friday, when the former ambassador to Ukraine is scheduled to testify to House of Representatives investigators, Reuters informs.
Marie Yovanovitch, a career diplomat who was abruptly recalled from Ukraine in May, is scheduled to give a deposition to congressional investigators probing Trump in a scandal that has cast a pall over his presidency.
Congressional lawmakers were waiting to see if she shows up after the White House said earlier this week it would refuse to cooperate with an impeachment inquiry that Trump has termed “a kangaroo court.”
The pledge from White House lawyer Pat Cipollone came hours after the administration blocked another key witness, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, from testifying to congressional panels.
The inquiry was launched after a whistleblower complaint about a July 25 phone call in which Trump pressed his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, to investigate former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, a leading Democratic contender for the right to face Trump in the November 2020 election.
Democrats have accused Trump of pressuring a vulnerable foreign ally to dig up dirt on a domestic political opponent for his own political benefit. Trump has denied he did anything wrong on the call, Reuters adds.
On Thursday, two foreign-born Florida businessmen who had helped Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani investigate Biden were arrested in what prosecutors said was a scheme to illegally funnel money to a pro-Trump election committee and other U.S. political candidates.
The pair, Ukraine-born Lev Parnas and Belarus-born Igor Fruman, were arrested at an airport outside Washington carrying one-way tickets to Vienna. Prosecutors said they conspired to contribute foreign money, including at least $1 million from an unidentified Russian businessman, to candidates for federal and state offices to buy influence.