House Democrats are not slowing down their impeachment inquiry, no matter how big of a public meltdown over the situation that President Donald Trump would like to have. As this past week drew to a close, House impeachment investigators issued two new subpoenas, demanding that both top National Security Council (NSC) lawyer John Eisenberg and Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s chief of staff Brian McCormack testify on Monday, although it’s unclear whether the figures will comply. Eisenberg figured prominently in fellow NSC official Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman’s testimony, while McCormack could provide a firsthand perspective on Perry’s work to execute the shadow foreign policy that Trump wanted for Ukraine.
The subpoenas follow a vote this past week from the full House that formally authorized procedures including public hearings for the rest of the impeachment inquiry. That vote was mostly along party lines.
Eisenberg — who was first appointed by none other than the now criminally charged former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn — apparently moved a record to a top secret system that chronicled a phone conversation in which Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate the Bidens. Vindman also shared that after he raised concerns about the overall pressure scheme after listening into the conversation as it happened, Eisenberg instructed him to not tell anyone what he’d heard on the call.
Vindman had tried to correct the record based on what he’d heard, but politically minded White House officials blocked him. He told Congress:
I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen, and I was worried about the implications for the U.S. government’s support of Ukraine. I realized that if Ukraine pursued an investigation into the Bidens and Burisma it would likely be interpreted as a partisan play which would undoubtedly result in Ukraine losing the bipartisan support it has thus far maintained.’
Vindman is not the only one who raised concerns about what happened around that call but apparently didn’t get anywhere until now. According to former NSC official Fiona Hill, former Trump national security adviser John Bolton at one point asked her to relay similar concerns to top legal counsel at the NSC as well. Bolton — who impeachment investigators have eyed for questioning — insisted that he didn’t want to be a part of the “drug deal” that Trump’s shadow Ukraine policy team was concocting.
Perry, who’s announced his intention to soon resign, was on that team, although he’s already insisted that he personally will not cooperate with the impeachment inquiry. He worked alongside now former Special Envoy Kurt Volker and the still serving, Trump donor turned E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland to advance the aim of getting Ukraine to produce that dirt on the Bidens.
At one point, top Ukraine diplomat Bill Taylor told Congress that Sondland told Ukraine that “everything” they wanted would be dependent on them producing that dirt, which constitutes a fairly clear-cut quid pro quo, to use a phrase that’s been batted around quite a bit at this point.