Pence adviser will defy White House to testify in impeachment probe

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Jennifer Williams is a career diplomat who was assigned to Pence's national security team.

House impeachment investigators will gain insight into Vice President Mike Pence's potential role in getting Ukraine to investigate Donald Trump's political rivals on Thursday, when Pence aide Jennifer Williams testifies in a closed-door deposition.

Williams, a career foreign service officer specializing in European and Russian affairs, will testify about what she knows of the effort to get Ukraine to launch investigations. Williams was assigned to Pence's national security team and was listening in on the July 25 call between Trump and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky that is now at the heart of an impeachment inquiry.

The White House attempted to block Williams from testifying, but she showed up Thursday after receiving a subpoena.

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"Jennifer is a longtime dedicated State Department employee," Williams' lawyer, Justin Shur, told NPR. "If required to appear, she will answer the Committees' questions. We expect her testimony will largely reflect what is already in the public record."

Not only will Williams testify about the July 25 phone call between Trump and Zelensky, but she will also face questions about a trip Pence made to Poland in September, during which he met with Zelensky. Trump sent Pence to Poland because he said he needed to stay in the United States to monitor Hurricane Dorian.

On the Poland trip, which Williams attended, Zelensky asked Pence about the $400 million in security aid that Trump was apparently holding back to force Ukraine to announce investigations into Vice President Joe Biden and the Democratic National Committee.

"The Vice President did not respond substantively but said he would talk to President Trump that night," top U.S. diplomat to Ukraine Bill Taylor said in his testimony to impeachment investigators of the Pence-Zelensky meeting, according to a transcript released Wednesday. "The Vice President did say that President Trump wanted the Europeans to do more to support Ukraine and that he wanted Ukrainians to do more to fight corruption."

Pence, for his part, has been cagey about whether he knew about a quid pro quo.

Williams' testimony could help shed some clarity on what Pence actually knew.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.