The White House is blocking any more testimony of executive branch officials in House Democratic impeachment depositions, as four scheduled depositions will go ignored today, despite House Democratic subpoena threats.
Four White House officials slated for closed-door depositions Monday are not expected to show up on Capitol Hill despite the threat of subpoena from the committees leading the growing impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump related to Ukraine, multiple senior-level sources told ABC News.
House Democrats have a packed schedule this week as depositions continue behind closed doors.
On Monday, Democrats had hoped to hear from four current White House officials, including John Eisenberg, deputy counsel to the president for National Security Affairs; Michael Ellis, senior associate counsel to the president; Robert Blair, a top aide to the chief of staff; and Brian McCormack, an official with the office of management and budget.
Two of those officials, Eisenberg and McCormack, have already been subpoenaed for their respective depositions. Ellis and Blair have only been requested to appear at this time.
The White House has pushed back on permitting current and former officials to comply with requests and subpoenas from Congress in part because White House lawyers have not been permitted inside the closed-door interviews.
Current National Security Council adviser Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and former National Security Council aide Tim Morrison did comply with congressional requests last week, however, they are career officials and not political appointees like the four individuals slated for Monday.
Two of the individuals subpoenaed are filing suits with federal judges to determine who has priority, the White House, citing executive privilege over any testimony, or the House Democratic committee subpoenas. Those cases aren't expected to be heard until December at the earliest, meaning that the Trump regime efforts to stonewall impeachment proceedings to a complete halt may end up working after all.
It looks like Trump wants any and all testimony from "his employees" to end, permanently.
The anticipated defiance toward impeachment investigators comes as Trump has grown enraged that so many of his “employees,” as he refers to them, are going to Capitol Hill and testifying, said a person who regularly talks with him and who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The president has asked for copies of witness statements so he can decide how to criticize them, complained that his lawyers are not doing enough to stop people from talking, and even encouraged members of Congress to question the credibility of people working in his own administration, current and former officials said.
“He is the war room,” press secretary Stephanie Grisham said on Fox News.
We'll see how Democrats react. Tying up House subpoenas in court for months or years was always going to be part of the plan. Whether or not Democrats will move ahead anyway, I don't know.
The decision to ignore a congressional subpoena comes with risk. House Democrats could hold Vought and his aides in contempt of Congress or take them to court to try to compel their testimony, as the party has done for former White House counsel Donald McGahn. Democrats have said they will not wait on the courts before they proceed with their impeachment inquiry. But by suing Trump officials, they could force testimony next year, shortly before the presidential election.
Trump clearly thinks the country will turn on the Democrats the longer he's able to stall.
He's probably right.