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Two officials agree to testify in Congressional Ukraine probe

Then-U.S. Spec Rep for Ukraine Kurt Volker meets with Rada deputies, October 28, 2017. (U.S. Embassy Kyiv Ukraine/Released)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Two officials named in the whistle-blower complaint related to Ukraine have agreed to provide depositions to three Democratic-led congressional committees as part of an impeachment probe into U.S. President Donald Trump.

Former special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker will appear before the House committees behind closed doors on October 3, American news outlets reported, including Reuters and AP.

Former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch will appear before the panels on October 11. She was earlier scheduled to testify on October 2.

A whistle-blower complaint released last week detailed Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, asking him to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden who is a political rival of the U.S. president.

The unidentified whistle-blower accused Trump of pressuring the Ukrainian president and of soliciting foreign interference in exchange for personal gain.

Trump has denied any wrongdoing and called the inquiry “the greatest scam in the history of American politics.”

In a Twitter post on October 1, Trump said, “as I learn more and more each day, I am coming to the conclusion that what is taking place is not an impeachment, it is a COUP.”

House Democrats moved ahead with an investigation after the complaint was made public and a rough memo of the July 25 call was released.

Trump’s accuser also said White House officials subsequently sequestered records of the phone call in a computer system meant for highly classified information, prompting House Democrats to say it was a cover-up.

Earlier on October 1, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused Democrats of trying to “intimidate” and “bully” State Department officials as part of their probe.

“I will use all means at my disposal to prevent and expose any attempts to intimidate the dedicated professionals,” he also said.

Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (Democrat-New York) responded by accusing Pompeo of “stonewalling.”

He called Pompeo a “fact witness” for having sat in on the Trump-Zelenskiy phone call.

“He [Pompeo] should immediately cease intimidating department witnesses in order to protect himself and the president,” Engel said along with Congressmen Adam Schiff (Democrat-California) and Elijah Cummings (Democrat-Maryland).

Last week Volker resigned when it emerged that he had followed up with Ukrainian officials a day after the Trump-Zelenskiy call.

Trump had abruptly froze nearly $400 million in military funding to Ukraine ahead of the call.

The funds have since been unlocked and Congress and the State Department have given initial approval to sell Ukraine $39 million worth of anti-tank missiles to help it battle Russian-backed separatists.

The pending sale, requested this summer, is not part of the aid that Trump had withheld.

Congressional aides, speaking on condition of anonymity to Reuters and AP because the sale is not final, said both Republicans and Democrats need to approve Kyiv’s proposal.

Ukraine got its first batch of Javelin tank-killer missiles in April 2018, purchasing 210 missiles and 37 launchers.

The United States has been providing military aid to Ukraine since Russia invaded in 2014.