This weekend, following their first public hearings featuring witnesses like former Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, House impeachment investigators are hosting White House official Mark Sandy for testimony. Sandy is a career official at the White House Office of Management and Budget, and he even led that office in an acting capacity around the time that the Trump administration was first taking its place and Trump hadn’t yet tapped his own nominee for office director. Other testimony has revealed that Sandy signed off on at least some of the paperwork establishing the hold on military aid for Ukraine that corresponded to Trump’s plot to pressure Ukraine to produce dirt on the Bidens.
‘From his perch in OMB’s national security programs office, Sandy is expected to have insight into internal conversations when the administration was taking the unusual step of freezing the funding. A source familiar with the matter said Sandy did not know at the time why at the time it was frozen.’
Sam Berger, who CNN describes as a high-ranking OMB political appointee from the Obama administration who worked with Sandy, praised his credibility. Berger shared:
‘He’s a longstanding public servant with an excellent reputation.’
Sandy is one of a growing number of officials who have openly diverged from the president’s insistence on the White House delivering no cooperation whatsoever with the House impeachment inquiry.
Sandy is the first official from the Office of Management and Budget to testify. That office’s director Mick Mulvaney has fought demands for testimony to the point of requesting to join a lawsuit challenging House subpoenas — although he dropped that request — and OMB official Russ Vought has already defied a subpoena demanding his testimony. Vought denounced the impeachment inquiry as a “sham process.”
House investigators have already accumulated significant evidence anyway. According to top administration aide Catherine Croft, who’s already testified, Trump himself directed that the military aid in question be put on hold. The stated excuse for that hold from the Trump team is that the president was concerned about corruption in Ukraine, but in reality, all he actually expressed any concern about was the baseless smears against the Bidens that he based his whole plot on.
It’s also already come out that the Trump-appointed associate director at OMB Michael Duffey signed some of the paperwork enacting the hold on that aid.
‘Under normal course of business, Sandy would be the person to sign off on this kind of action. Making an end run around him means the Trump White House knew it was asking for something Sandy wouldn’t do.’
Duffey is one of a number of political appointees who intervened in foreign policy channels to get the president’s plot enacted. Some — like personal Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani — weren’t ever even appointed to any government position at all. Now, Giuliani is reportedly under investigation for campaign finance and lobbying law violations.