House to Hold First Public Impeachment Hearings Next Week
WASHINGTON – House Democrats announced Wednesday that they will hold their first public hearings as part of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump next week.
In a brief statement, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said William Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat to Ukraine, and George Kent, a top State Department official, will testify next Wednesday.
Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch is then expected to testify next Friday.
With the start of open hearings, House investigators will begin making their case to the public that Trump pressured a foreign power to investigate political opponents.
Schiff said additional details will be released in the coming days.
It was just last week that the House voted largely along party lines to pass a resolution outlining the procedures for impeachment.
Since then the Intelligence committee has released a series of transcripts of the previous closed-door depositions.
In a transcript released Wednesday, Taylor told investigators he understood that the security assistance, and not just a White House meeting for Ukraine’s new president, was conditioned on the country committing to investigations of Joe Biden and also Democrats’ actions in the 2016 election.
“That was my clear understanding, security assistance money would not come until the president committed to pursue the investigation,” Taylor said.
When asked if he was aware that “quid pro quo” meant “this for that.”
“I am,” he replied.
The testimony from Taylor further connects the Trump administration to a quid-pro-quo agreement involving Ukraine that is now at the heart of the House impeachment inquiry.
“I think it was becoming clear to the Ukrainians that, in order to get this meeting that they wanted, they would have to commit to pursuing these investigations,” Taylor said.
He also said Ukraine officials believed that opening the investigations would have involved them in the 2020 election campaign in the U.S.
They didn’t want to do that, Taylor said.
Yovanovitch told investigators in October that Trump’s personal attorney, Rudolph Giuliani worked outside government channels in order to oust her, something she characterized as a “dangerous precedent.”
Yovanovitch, a career diplomat, was removed from Ukraine in May.
But following Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky — a call during which Trump belittled the former ambassador as “bad news” — Yovanovitch said she felt her career and her pension were threatened.
“I was shocked,” she said.
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