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Third-highest ranking State Department official testifying


David Hale, undersecretary of state for political affairs, arrives Nov. 6 at the U.S. Capitol before giving a deposition to the House Intelligence Committee behind closed doors in Washington, D.C. Hale testified to the committee as part of the ongoing impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump. Tribune News Service

By Roll Call Staff
CQ-Roll Call

WASHINGTON — The third-highest ranking official at the State Department arrived at the Capitol on Wednesday for his House impeachment deposition, where he is expected to testify that political considerations fueled the department's decision not to strongly defend the former ambassador to Ukraine from efforts by President Donald Trump and his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, to oust her.

David Hale, undersecretary of state for political affairs, is the first witness this week to show up for his slated closed-door hearing. Nine others — all current or former Trump administration officials — have skipped or are expected to skip their depositions.

Hale is expected to tell impeachment investigators that he tried to distance himself from the fracas swirling the possible ouster of then-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, declining to either shield her from Trump or encourage her dismissal, The Associated Press reported.

The chairs of the three committees leading the impeachment inquiry on Tuesday released two more transcripts of witness depositions, including revised testimony from U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland that appears to bolster the case that the Trump administration sought a quid pro quo for Ukraine to investigate the president's domestic political rivals in exchange for military aid and a White House meeting between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

House impeachment investigators have now released transcripts of depositions from four witnesses: Yovanovitch, former State Department official Michael McKinley, Sondland and former special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker.

The panel expects to unseal two more deposition transcripts Wednesday, though it has not indicated whose.

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