The Democratic-led impeachment investigation of President Donald Trump resumes with testimony from a senior State Department official on Saturday, a day after a judge buoyed the probe by dismissing a central Republican objection.
Philip Reeker, the acting assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, is due to meet with the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs, Intelligence and Oversight Committees behind closed doors at the U.S. Capitol.
Lawmakers and staff are holding the first-weekend deposition of the investigation, after Reeker’s testimony was postponed due to memorial events this week for Representative Elijah Cummings, who had been Oversight chairman and played a leading role in the impeachment inquiry.
On Friday, U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell rejected the claim that the impeachment process is illegitimate, as he ordered the Republican Trump administration to give the House Judiciary Committee secret material from former special counsel Robert Mueller’s reporting on Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.
Howell said the House did not have to approve a resolution formally initiating the effort for the impeachment inquiry to be valid, something Republicans have been insisting is the case.
Reeker, 54, is a career diplomat whose current portfolio includes Ukraine, the country central to the investigation of Trump. Reeker has held his position on an acting basis since March 18.
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The impeachment inquiry has underscored what current and former U.S. officials describe as a campaign by Trump against career diplomats. Several have already met with congressional investigators.
Investigators are expected to ask Reeker about issues including Trump’s abrupt dismissal of Marie Yovanovitch in May as ambassador to Ukraine. According to emails given to congressional committees this month, Reeker was among diplomats who sought to intervene when Trump supporters accused Yovanovitch of being disloyal to the president.
Another career diplomat involved in those communications, George Kent, testified last week that he was told to “lie low” on Ukraine and instead defer to three of Trump’s political appointees. Yovanovitch has also testified, accusing the Trump administration of recalling her based on false claims and of eviscerating the State Department.