State Department watchdog to brief Congress on 'urgent' matter

As the Secretary of State publicly tangled on Tuesday with Democrats in Congress over requests to interview a series of U.S. diplomatic officials about actions involving the President and Ukraine, the Inspector General of the State Department dropped his own surprise by suddenly setting up closed door meetings Wednesday with eight different Congressional committees.

The out-of-left-field notification by State Department Inspector General Steve Linick left Capitol Hill uncertain over what information he was going to deliver, as Democrats demanded more answers about President Donald Trump asking the leader of Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son.

"When asked about the Ukraine call, Mike Pompeo said he knew nothing about it," Rep. Gil Cisneros (D-CA) said of the Secretary of State. "Now we know that he was on the call."

Democrats warned the Secretary not to try to use legal efforts to block any testimony.

"Any effort to intimidate witnesses or prevent them from talking with Congress — including State Department employees — is illegal and will constitute evidence of obstruction of the impeachment inquiry," said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the head of the House Intelligence Committee.

The briefings came as Secretary of State Pompeo accused Democrats of trying to bully and intimidate current and former State Department officials by pressing for testimony about the President and Ukraine.

But Pompeo's efforts to delay any testimony did not seem to work, as a former U.S. envoy to Ukraine, Kurt Volker - who was forced out of his post just in recent weeks - said he would answer questions behind closed doors on Thursday, while the former U.S. Ambassador set her date for next week.

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