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Impeachment investigators ask Rick Perry to testify

WASHINGTON (AP) — House investigators have called Energy Secretary Rick Perry to testify in the impeachment inquiry and issued subpoenas late Friday to a top White House lawyer and another administration official to appear.

Perry is the first member of President Donald Trump’s cabinet asked to appear before the House. His testimony is scheduled for Wednesday, according an official working on the impeachment inquiry but unauthorized to discuss it. The person was granted anonymity.

Energy Department spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes indicated Friday that Perry would not appear for the closed-door hearing, but would consider testifying in a public session.

“The Secretary will not partake in a secret star chamber inquisition where agency counsel is forbidden to be present,” Hynes said.

“If the committee is interested in conducting a serious proceeding they are welcome to send for the Secretary’s consideration an invitation to participate in an open hearing where the Department’s counsel can be present and the American people can witness.”

The subpoenas were issued to two White House officials who had already been asked to appear Monday.

One subpoena is for testimony from John Eisenberg, the lead counsel at the National Security Council, according to another person familiar with the situation. Eisenberg was instrumental in discussions about how to handle a White House memo recounting the Trump phone call with Ukraine that is central to the impeachment inquiry.

The other subpoena is to Brian McCormack, a top aide who worked on energy policy at the Office of Management and Budget.

Trump has blocked White House officials from testifying in the impeachment probe, which he views as illegitimate.

But an ever-growing list of current and former administration staffers have been appearing behind closed doors in the impeachment hearings.

Investigators also want to hear Wednesday from David Hale, an undersecretary at the State Department who has been mentioned in previous testimony.

Mostly, the witnesses are corroborating the core of the investigation: that Trump, in the call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, pushed for an investigation of Democrats and Joe Biden as the administration withheld military aid to the ally as it confronts Russian aggression.

Perry told The Associated Press in Dubai last weekend that he considered the way lawmakers were pursuing impeachment improper, and indicated he did not plan to testify despite a subpoena for him to appear.

The House voted this week to affirm the impeachment process and formalize the procedures ahead.

Perry, who led a U.S. delegation to Ukraine for Zelenskiy’s inauguration in May, has emphatically denied hearing anyone, during what his frequent meetings with Ukrainian officials, mention the Bidens or the Ukraine company that employed Hunter Biden.

Texas / Texas Politics / US & World

Associated Press