Donald Trump promotes White House aide who refused to testify in impeachment inquiry

PALM BEACH, Fla. – President Donald Trump has handed a promotion to a White House aide who refused to testify in the House impeachment inquiry against him.

Trump, who is spending the holidays at his resort in Palm Beach, Fla., has named Robert Blair as the special representative for international communications policy, the White House announced Monday. Blair will lead U.S. efforts to promote a secure and reliable global communications system, the announcement said.

Blair currently serves as a senior adviser to acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and assistant to the president. The White House said he would continue in those roles.

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Blair refused to testify in November before House committees conducting the impeachment inquiry into Trump after the White House directed him not to appear for his deposition. Blair was one of a small group of officials who listened to Trump’s phone call last July with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

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During that call, Trump urged Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and Biden’s son, Hunter, who worked for the Ukraine energy company Burisma Holdings.

The call touched off a chain of events that led to the House opening an impeachment inquiry into Trump.

Last week, Trump became only the third American president in history to be impeached when the House voted in a mostly party-line vote to charge him with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. A Senate trial early next year will examine whether he should be removed from office.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has asked that Blair and several other witnesses who declined to cooperate with House impeachment investigators be called as part of the Senate trial.

Besides Blair, Schumer wants to the Senate to hear testimony from Mulvaney, former national security advisor John Bolton and Michael Duffey, associate director for national security at the Office of Management and Budget.

The four are believed to have information about nearly $400 million in military aid that was withheld from Ukraine and a key White House meeting with the Ukraine leader that was allegedly used as leverage for the investigations Trump wanted.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has rejected Schumer’s demand for their testimony, arguing it would create a “nightmarish precedent” for the Senate.

Michael Collins covers the White House. Reach him on Twitter @mcollinsNEWS.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Impeachment: Donald Trump promotes key aide who defied subpoena