Trump's impeachment messenger meets with Republicans on eve of public hearing

Emma Dumain, Michael Wilner and Francesca Chambers, McClatchy Washington Bureau on

Published in Political News

WASHINGTON -- On the eve of a public hearing in the House impeachment inquiry, at least one member of President Donald Trump's new two-person messaging team has met with senior House Republican communicators on Capitol Hill.

The team of Pam Bondi and Tony Sayegh, political allies of the president hired last week to coordinate Republican countermessaging on impeachment, has not yet started in their official capacity. Nevertheless, Sayegh was already attending meetings in Congress ahead of public hearings set to begin Wednesday morning.

Bondi, the former attorney general of Florida, told McClatchy that the new team has not formally started, but confirmed that Sayegh began taking meetings Tuesday in an unofficial capacity.

A House Republican leadership aide said that Sayegh, a former Treasury Department official, attended one meeting Tuesday morning with White House legislative affairs staff and House GOP communications aides.

That meeting of Republican congressional aides has become a daily routine since Democrats first launched the impeachment inquiry in September. Congressional Republicans have been calling on the White House to appoint communications experts to streamline coordination and the party's response.

A White House official said Tuesday evening that communication teams from the White House and Congress are now interacting and briefing each other.

"We'll be monitoring the testimony tomorrow and reacting," the official said.


The House Intelligence Committee will host the first public impeachment hearing Wednesday with Bill Taylor -- a career diplomat whose closed-door testimony accused the president of wrongdoing with respect to Ukraine policy -- and George Kent, a top State Department official whose deposition accused Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, with efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son.

Democrats argue that Trump violated his oath of office by withholding $391 million in military aid to a newly elected government in Ukraine unless it publicly announced an investigation into Biden, a Democrat and potential political rival, and his family.

Republican lawmakers had been urging the Trump administration to bring on seasoned communications experts to streamline their messaging on impeachment. Both Bondi and Sayegh were hired by the administration as temporary government employees last week.

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