State Department officials to testify in impeachment inquiry Wednesday

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By Leigh Ann Caldwell and Rebecca Shabad  with NBC News Politics
Image: Capitol building
More impeachment inquiry testimony planned for Wednesday.   -   Copyright  Patrick Semansky AP file

WASHINGTON — A current State Department official and a former one were both slated to testify Wednesday in the House impeachment inquiry, a day after Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman provided key testimony before lawmakers on three House committees tasked with investigating the Ukraine case.

Catherine Croft, who serves as special adviser for Ukraine at the State Department, was expected to begin her closed-door deposition before the three committees Wednesday morning.

Christopher Anderson, who served as a former special adviser to former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker, was scheduled to testify before lawmakers early Wednesday afternoon. Anderson left his position in mid-July and was succeeded by Croft.

According to their opening statements obtained by NBC News, neither of these witnesses listened to the July 25 phone call between President Donald Trump and Ukraine's president, Volodymyr Zelinskiy.

Croft, who joined the National Security Council in July 2017, is expected to tell lawmakers that during her time in that role, she received multiple calls from Robert Livington — a lobbyist and former GOP member of Congress — who told her that Marie Yovanovitch, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, should be fired.

"He characterized Ambassador Yovanovitch as an 'Obama holdover' and associated with George Soros," she planned to say, according to prepared remarks. "It was not clear to me at the time—or now—at whose direction or at whose expense Mr. Livingston was seeking the removal of Ambassador Yovanovitch."

Croft was expected to add that she documented those calls and told her boss, Fiona Hill, and George Kent, and that she was not aware of any action that was taken in response.

She also is expected to say that in July, she participated in a video conference where an official at the Office of Management and Budget reported that acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney had placed a hold on U.S. security assistance to Ukraine. The only reason given was that the order came at the direction of the president.

Meanwhile, Anderson was expected to say in his opening statement that former national security adviser John Bolton had cautioned him that "Giuliani was a key voice with the President on Ukraine which could be an obstacle to increased White House engagement." Anderson was also expected to mention a June 18 meeting this year in which "Secretary Perry hosted a follow-up meeting at the Department of Energy to discuss how to move forward" with engaging Ukraine.

Their testimony was to come a day after Vindman, appearing voluntarily under congressional subpoena, told members of Congress that he was on the phone call between Trump and Ukraine's leader in which Trump asked for an investigation into the Bidens — and that he raised concerns about the conversation to his superior.

Vindman also told lawmakers that he tried to edit a White House log of the July phone call to include details that were omitted.