Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has referred to the Senate hearings as a sham trial, as McConnell in the initial rules, rejected calling witnesses or issuing subpoenas for documents. Yet, after the Bolton’s unpublished manuscript was leaked to the New York Times, the pressure to call him was definitely on.
There are two names I think everyone recognizes: Mick Mulvaney, Director of the Office of Management and Budget and the White House’s Chief of Staff and John Bolton, former National Security Adviser. Then there are two lesser known officials : Robert Blair and Michael Duffey, both working for Mulvaney in different capacities. I think if Schumer has his way, he would start with Blair and Duffey. It would put pressure on Mick Mulvaney to tell the truth. Just working up the food chain, of course.
Robert Blair: An assistant to the President, appointed by Mick Mulvaney as Trump’s Chief of Staff
Blair, who was associate director for national security programs in the Office of Management and Budget, followed Mulvaney in January to the White House when Mulvaney became acting chief of staff. Mulvaney made Blair an assistant to the President. Blair serves as Mulvaney’s senior adviser for national security issues. Blair’s hiring allowed Mulvaney to have a hand in national security issues without having to go through former White House national security adviser John Bolton. After Bolton was fired, one administration official said that Blair could be a favorite to replace Bolton because of his support from Mulvaney.
Blair was one of just a small group of officials on the line during Trump’s controversial phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Mulvaney was not. During the July 25 call, Trump asked Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden — despite there being no evidence of wrongdoing by either Joe Biden or his son, Hunter, in Ukraine. The phone call was part of a whistleblower’s complaint that alleged Trump sought “to solicit interference” from Ukraine in the upcoming 2020 election, and that the White House took steps to cover it up. Trump has denied doing anything improper.
Before joining the Trump administration, Blair worked for the past 14 years as a staffer for several committees in the House of Representatives. His last position was staff director on the House Subcommittee on Defense Appropriations. He previously worked as a regional adviser for Africa at the US State Department of State from 2001-2003. According to his LinkedIn profile, he received a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and two master’s degrees from Tufts University. He served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Africa during the mid-1990s.
Michael Duffey, OMB, associated director of national security programs
Michael Duffey, a politically appointed Office of Management and Budget official, was given authority by the White House to keep aid to Ukraine on hold after career budget staff members questioned the legality of delaying the funds. Duffey previously served as executive director of the Republican Party of Wisconsin. “While career civil servants put an initial hold on the aid, Michael Duffey, associate director of national security programs in OMB, was given the authority for continuing to keep the aid on hold after the career staff began raising their concerns to political officials at OMB, according to people familiar with the matter,” according to the Wall Street Journal.
Duffey also began overseeing the process for approving and releasing funds for other foreign aid and defense accounts, according to the report. Trump’s order to withhold nearly $400 million in aid to Ukraine in July is at the heart of House Democrats’ move to launch an impeachment inquiry into allegations that Trump used U.S. foreign policy powers to benefit himself politically. Duffey, 41, left Wisconsin’s Republican Party in December 2016 when he was named to then-President-elect Donald Trump’s national security team at the Pentagon. He joined the administration when another prominent Wisconsin politician, Reince Priebus, was Trump’s chief of staff. Priebus held that post until July 2017.
What makes Michael Duffey’s testimony so important, is an email he wrote about 90 minutes following Trump’s phone call to Zelensky, notifying the Department of Defense, that a hold had been put on the Ukraine military aid, and given the sensitive nature of this hold, this information limited to those with a need to know. It further confirms the testimony of Sondland and others, that it was a “dollars for dirt” deal.
This memo was released in December 2010 as part of a FIOA requestl