Democrats in the US House of Representatives set a Thursday vote to lay out next steps for their impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump, even as officials past and present refuse to cooperate.
Trump and his fellow Republicans have spent weeks branding the probe illegitimate because the full Democratic-led House had not authorized it. If the measure passes the House, Democrats are likely to argue that it neutralizes those claims.
Several administration officials, including a former deputy national security adviser on Monday, have failed to testify to House committees engaged in the impeachment probe.
Those panels are looking into the president’s overtures to Ukraine and the possibility that Trump violated federal law by seeking foreign help for his 2020 re-election efforts.
In a letter to her fellow House Democrats, House speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House will vote this week – on Thursday, according to a senior Democratic aide – on a resolution that “affirms the ongoing, existing investigation” and spells out how future public hearings will be held.
Pelosi promised to provide legal protections for Trump. The measure will set the stage for House investigating committees to forward evidence they have collected to the House Judiciary Committee, which then would decide whether to advance articles of impeachment against Trump.
Earlier on Monday, Charles Kupperman, a former deputy to ousted national security adviser John Bolton, failed to appear before the three House panels conducting one phase of the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry, lawmakers said.
Kupperman put off testifying while asking a court to rule on whether he should comply with a congressional subpoena or honor the Trump administration’s order not to testify, his lawyers said last week.
“He was a no-show. This is deeply regrettable,” Representative Adam Schiff, chairman of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, told reporters.
At least nine others have testified despite being instructed by the White House not to do so, he said.
Kupperman was expected to provide testimony about Trump’s dealings with Ukraine brought to Congress’ attention by a report from a whistleblower about a July 25 telephone call between the
US president and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. Trump’s request to Zelenskiy that he investigate former US Vice President Joe Biden, a leading candidate for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, and his son Hunter Biden, who had served on the board of a Ukrainian gas company, is the focus of the inquiry being conducted by the Democratic-led House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees.