Trump impeachment inquiry awaits key witnesses, but some will be no-shows

U.S. lawmakers leading an impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump have scheduled another crucial round of testimony this week, but several key white house witnesses plan to defy them and some other administration officials could follow suit.

Refusals by Trump loyalists to appear before Democratic-led committees could set the stage for a battle between the white house and lawmakers over their power to conduct the investigations.

Some Democrats say, Trump, which has ordered administration officials not to cooperate, should face an obstruction of justice charge among the impeachment counts they plan to consider against him.

According to reports by Reuters, three white house budget officials, including the acting budget director, are already refusing to show up, a senior Trump administration official said, citing the white house’s opposition to the inquiry. Their testimony is considered critical to helping determine whether trump used foreign aid as leverage to secure a political favor.

Another important witness slated for Monday is John Eisenberg, the top lawyer for the white house national security council. Lawmakers are especially interested in questioning him about a July 25 phone call in which trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate trump’s political rival Joe Biden, a former vice president.

Eisenberg was involved in a decision to take the unusual step of moving a transcript of the call into the white house’s most classified computer system, according to a person familiar with last week’s testimony by Army Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman.

Eisenberg also told Vindman, who listened in on the call, not to discuss the matter when the white house aide and several other national security council officials reported to him their concerns about the conversation, said the source, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Vindman testified that he found it improper to demand a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen and was so worried about the implications that he took the matter to Eisenberg.

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