Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s former senior adviser is scheduled to appear Wednesday before three House committees leading the impeachment probe of President Donald Trump.
Michael McKinley, a veteran diplomat who served as U.S. ambassador to Brazil, Afghanistan, Colombia, and Peru, is the sixth witness called by the House Intelligence, Oversight, and Foreign Affairs committees as they investigate Trump and his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani’s effort to pressure Ukraine to open corruption investigations for Trump’s political benefit.
It was unclear Wednesday morning if McKinley would show up. The State Department has ordered active officials not to appear before the committees, but two other former U.S officials have not been blocked from testifying: special envoy for Ukraine Kurt Volker, who resigned after it was revealed how he facilitated Giuliani’s effort, and Fiona Hill, the senior Russia official on Trump’s National Security Council who departed days before Trump’s controversial call with Ukraine’s new president Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
Two current State Department officials were subpoenaed and complied, defying their order not to appear: former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent, whose portfolio includes Ukraine and other Eastern European countries. Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, will comply with a subpoena and testify Thursday after not showing up last Tuesday.
McKinley stepped down as Pompeo’s senior adviser Friday after serving as a key conduit to the Foreign Service, the U.S. diplomatic corps. In a farewell note to colleagues, McKinley said it was time to move on after 37 years, but his resignation comes amid anger and frustration over Pompeo’s role in the Ukraine controversy.
As a close adviser, McKinley traveled often with Pompeo during Pompeo’s year and a half as Secretary of State, returning to Washington from Brasilia just weeks after Pompeo was sworn in. His guidance was important to Pompeo who worked to restore trust among career diplomats after his predecessor Rex Tillerson was seen as destroying their ranks with budget cuts, a costly, unpopular department redesign, and a freeze on hiring family members to work at missions overseas.
But it’s unclear how much McKinley knew about Giuliani’s efforts and how they were aided by Sondland and Volker; the department’s attempts to dispel a smear campaign against Yovanovitch by Giuliani, his associates, and corrupt Ukrainian politicians; or the hold on $392 million of security assistance to Ukraine from the State Department and Pentagon.