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Mick Mulvaney defies subpoena, skips impeachment deposition

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Mulvaney was subpoenaed overnight by House Democrats, in an effort to compel his testimony. -
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Aaron Bernstein Reuters file
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WASHINGTON — White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney defied a subpoena issued by House Democrats overnight that sought to compel his testimony in the impeachment inquiry on Friday, skipping his deposition.

Mulvaney had been invited earlier in the week to appear Friday for a closed-door deposition. When asked if Mulvaney would comply with the new subpoena, a senior administration official pointed NBC News back to a statement made earlier in the week by deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley when he was first asked about the possibility.

"Past Democrat and Republican Administrations would not be inclined to permit Senior Advisers to the President to participate in such a ridiculous, partisan, illegitimate proceeding - and neither is this one." said Gidley.

Mark Sandy, director for national security programs at the Office of Management and Budget, was also scheduled to appear Friday morning. While his plans were unclear, other OMB officials have ignored subpoenas.

Last month, Mulvaney told reporters in the White House briefing room that President Donald Trump had held up U.S. military assistance to Ukraine in order to get Ukraine to investigate a conspiracy theory involving Ukraine influencing the 2016 presidential election.

"The look back to what happened in 2016 certainly was part of the thing he was worried about in corruption with that nation, and that is absolutely appropriate," Mulvaney said.

ABC's Jonathan Karl pressed Mulvaney, saying, "To be clear: what you just described is a quid pro quo. It is 'funding will not flow unless the investigation into the Democratic server happened, as well.'"

"We do that all the time with foreign policy," Mulvaney replied.

Later in the day, he walked those comments back, saying in a statement, "There was absolutely no quid pro quo between Ukrainian military aid and any investigation into the 2016 election."

Out of 13 witnesses that Democrats scheduled for closed-door depositions this week, only two people ― Jennifer Williams, special adviser to Europe and Russia to Vice President Mike Pence and another State Department employee, David Hale ― have shown up.

According to the State Department official George Kent, whose deposition transcript was released Thursday, during the July 18 videoconference in which it was announced that the aid would be held up, Kent said that an OMB official who he didn't recognize said that Mulvaney "at the direction of the president had put a hold on all security assistance to the Ukraine."

Meanwhile, the House committees in charge of conducting the depositions are expected to release the transcript of former White House official Fiona Hill's deposition on Friday, two sources with knowledge of the timing told NBC News. One of the sources said that Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman's transcript is also expected to be released Friday.

The House Intelligence Committee is set to begin the first public hearings in the impeachment inquiry next week. The first open hearing, to be held Nov. 13, is slated to hear testimony from Taylor and State Department official George Kent. The second hearing, scheduled for Nov. 15, is expected to include testimony from former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.

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