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White House's top Russia official put on leave pending investigation

NBC News logo NBC News 1/19/2020 Josh Lederman and Andrea Mitchell and Hans Nichols

The top White House official responsible for Russia and Europe has been put on administrative leave indefinitely amid a security-related investigation, two U.S. officials and a former U.S. official tell NBC News.

Andrew Peek, who took over the Russia portfolio at the White House National Security Council in November, had been scheduled to join President Donald Trump at the Davos Forum this week before he was abruptly put on leave, one of the officials said. The officials declined to specify the nature of the investigation.

Peek did not respond to a request for comment Sunday. A National Security Council spokesman declined to comment on his status, which was earlier reported by Axios.

"We do not discuss personnel matters," the NSC spokesman said.

His absence from the role, at least temporarily, creates a void in a key position responsible for pushing back on Russian aggression and coordinating U.S. policy toward Moscow. It adds another jolt of uncertainty to an office in the White House that has seen significant turnover during the past year.

Peek, whose background is in Middle East affairs, took over the Russia and Europe portfolio from Tim Morrison, who was a key witness in the impeachment hearings in the House. The Russia and Europe role is the same one that was previously occupied by Fiona Hill, another key impeachment witness during last year's hearings.

Before starting his post at the White House, Peek had been a deputy assistant secretary at the State Department, where he oversaw Iran and Iraq in the department's Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs. Peek is also a former U.S. Army intelligence officer and worked on foreign policy in the Senate before joining the administration.

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