The President’s Refusal to Allow Top Aides to Testify : T. Ulrich Brechbuhl, Counselor, Department of State

The Trump-Ukraine Impeachment Inquiry Report includes Section II, The President’s Obstruction of the House of Representatives’ Impeachment Inquiry. Item #4 is The President’s Refusal to Allow Top Aides to Testify.    One of the twelve current or former Administration officials named in the report for refusing to testify under the President’s direction is T. Ulrich Brechbuhl, the Counselor for the State Department. The counselor position at State is not a legal position despite its title. It is an “Under Secretary-level principal officer” position. The incumbent serves the “Secretary as a special advisor and consultant on major problems of foreign policy and who provides guidance to the appropriate bureaus with respect to such matters. The Counselor conducts special international negotiations and consultations, and also undertakes special assignments from time to time, as directed by the Secretary.”
Excerpt from report:
At President Trump’s direction, twelve current or former Administration officials refused to testify as part of the House’s impeachment inquiry, ten of whom did so in defiance of duly authorized subpoenas. The President’s orders were coordinated and executed by the White House Counsel and others, and they prevented testimony from officials from the White House, National Security Council, Office of Management and Budget, Department of State, and Department of Energy.
[…]
In following President Trump’s orders to defy duly authorized Congressional subpoenas, several Administration officials who, to date, remain under subpoena may have placed themselves at risk of being held in criminal contempt of Congress.209 These witnesses were warned explicitly that their refusal to obey lawful orders to testify “shall constitute evidence that may be used against you in a contempt proceeding” and could also result in adverse inferences being drawn against both them and the President.210
T. Ulrich Brechbuhl, Counselor, Department of State
(see PDF pp 241-243)

On September 13, the Committees sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo seeking transcribed interviews with Counselor T. Ulrich Brechbuhl and other officials.271

The Committees received no direct, substantive response to this letter. On September 27, the Committees sent a letter informing Secretary Pompeo that Mr. Brechbuhl’s deposition was being scheduled on October 8, stating:

On September 13, the Committees wrote to request that you make State Department employees available for transcribed interviews. We asked you to provide, by September 20, dates by which the employees would be made available for transcribed interviews. You failed to comply with the Committees’ request.272

That same day, the Committees sent a letter directly to Mr. Brechbuhl seeking his appearance at a deposition on October 8.273

On October 1, Secretary Pompeo sent a letter to the Committees stating, “Based on the profound procedural and legal deficiencies noted above, the Committee’s requested dates for depositions are not feasible.”274

Later that day, the Committees sent a letter to Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan stating that the State Department “must immediately halt all efforts to interfere with the testimony of State Department witnesses before Congress.”275

On October 2, Mr. Brechbuhl’s personal attorney sent an email to Committee staff stating:

My law firm is in the process of being formally retained to assist Mr. Brechbuhl in connection with this matter. It will take us some time to complete those logistics, review the request and associated request for documents, and to meet with our client to insure he is appropriately prepared for any deposition. It will not be possible to accomplish those tasks before October 8, 2019. Thus, as I am sure that you can understand, Mr. Brechbuhl will not be able to appear on that date as he requires a sufficient opportunity to consult with counsel. Moreover, given the concerns expressed in Secretary Pompeo’s letter of October 1, 2019, to Chairman Engel, any participation in a deposition would need to be coordinated with our stakeholders.276

 

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@StateDept Now Has an Official Bio For New Counselor of the State Department Maliz E. Beams

Posted: 12:26 am ET
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On August 23, 2017, we blogged about the appointment of the new Counselor of the State Department (see Former Voya Financial CEO Maliz Beams Reportedly Appointed @StateDept Counselor).

We don’t  recall ever seeing a public announcement of this appointment. The new bio page of Ms Beams indicates that she was appointed to this position on August 17, 2017. We recall searching but not finding her official bio on state.gov. We found it this week. This position reports directly to the Secretary of State, and does not require Senate confirmation.

Via state.gov

The Counselor of the Department, Maliz E. Beams, is a principal officer who serves the Secretary as a special advisor and consultant on major problems of foreign policy and who provides guidance to the appropriate bureaus with respect to such matters. The Counselor conducts special international negotiations and consultations, and also undertakes special assignments from time to time, as directed by the Secretary.

Below is the official bio published by the State Department:

Maliz E. Beams was appointed as Counselor to the Department of State on August 17, 2017. Ms. Beams was the CEO of VOYA Financial Retirement Services, the largest publicly-traded retirement company, for several years. She previously served as President & CEO of TIAA Institutional and Individual Client Services, LLC and as President of Global Business Development for Zurich Scudder Investments. She also held senior management positions at Fleet Bank (now Bank of America), American Express, and Citibank.

Ms. Beams led highly successful organizational transformations in a variety of financial services industry sectors. She was named one of the nation’s Most Powerful Women in Finance – including six years in the top 10 – by American Banker. She was also honored by Legal Momentum for her work on shaping laws and policies that affect gender equality; and she has been listed in the Who’s Who of American Women.

Ms. Beams currently serves on several nonprofit and public company boards including: Columbia Business School’s Executive Board of Financial Studies; New England Aquarium’s Board of Directors; Mount Auburn Hospital-Harvard Medical Teaching Hospital; Vestigo Ventures’ Advisory Board; and Cetera Financial Services Board of Directors. In the past, she has also served on the boards of the Junior Achievement Worldwide Global Board of Governors and The Employee Benefits Retirement Institute.

A native of Boston, Ms. Beams earned her Bachelor Degree from Boston College and completed her post graduate Special Studies in Strategic Planning at Harvard University. She holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Columbia University.

 

Related posts:

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Top White House Aide Kenneth I. Juster to be U.S. Ambassador to India

Posted: 2:28 am ET
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On September 2, President Trump announced his intent to nominate Kenneth Juster to be the next U.S. Ambassador to India. The WH released a brief bio:

Kenneth I. Juster of New York to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of India. Mr. Juster most recently served as the Deputy Assistant to the President for International Economic Affairs and Deputy Director of the National Economic Council. Mr. Juster has previously served as Under Secretary of Commerce from 2001-2005, Counselor (acting) of the State Department from 1992-1993, and deputy and senior adviser to the Deputy Secretary of State from 1989-1992. In the private sector, he has been a partner at the investment firm Warburg Pincus LLC, Executive Vice President at Salesforce.com, and senior partner at the law firm Arnold & Porter. He has also served as Chairman of Harvard University’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, and as Vice Chairman of The Asia Foundation. Mr. Juster holds an A.B. in Government (Phi Beta Kappa) from Harvard College, an M.P.P. from the Harvard Kennedy School, and a J.D. from the Harvard Law School.

According to his Asia Foundation bio, Mr. Juster previously served as Acting Counselor of the U.S. Department of State from 1992 to 1993, and Deputy and Senior Adviser to Deputy Secretary of State Lawrence S. Eagleburger from 1989 to 1992. Juster received the Secretary of State’s Distinguished Service Award and Medal, the State Department’s highest honor, in 1993.

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Secretary Kerry Appoints Kristie Kenney as State Department Counselor

Posted: 4:24  pm EDT
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On February 12, Secretary Kerry announced the appointment of Ambassador Kristie Kenney as the Department’s counselor:

I am also pleased to announce that Ambassador Kristie Kenney will succeed Tom as State Department Counselor, taking on special assignments and advising me on an array of issues. The daughter of a public school teacher and a World War II veteran, Kristie has public service in her DNA. She rose through the ranks of the U.S. Foreign Service, and over the course of her career, has served as Ambassador to Thailand, the Philippines, and Ecuador. I know her to be one of the most effective leaders in the Department, with impeccable judgment and extraordinary skill under pressure. Her appointment as Counselor makes her one of the most senior female Foreign Service Officers in the history of our country.

According to history.state.gov:

The Secretary of State created the position of Counselor for the Department of State in 1909 as part of a general Department reorganization. In 1912, the position became a Presidential appointment (37 Stat. 372). Between 1913 and 1919, the Counselor served as the Department’s second-ranking officer, assuming the role previously exercised by the Assistant Secretary of State. In 1919., the newly-created position of Under Secretary of State subsumed the duties of the Counselor. An Act of Congress, May 18, 1937, re-established the position of Counselor of the Department of State (50 Stat. 169). Between 1961 and 1965, the Counselor also served as the Chairman of the Policy Planning Council. The Counselor, who currently under law holds rank equivalent to an Under Secretary of State (P.L. 98-164; 97 Stat. 1017), serves as an adviser to the Secretary of State. The Counselor’s specific responsibilities have varied over time.

Below are Ambassador Kenney’s predecessors:

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