The first public hearings in the Democrats’ ongoing impeachment inquiry into President Trump begin Wednesday, when Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent are scheduled to testify before the House Intelligence Committee in an open session. Marie Yovanovitch, the ousted former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, will testify Friday. (There are no hearings Thursday.) The three career public servants, who testified behind closed doors last month, are expected to detail in public the Trump administration’s alleged pressure campaign on Ukraine to investigate Trump’s political rivals.
Where can I watch?
The first hearing will begin at 10 a.m. ET, with Taylor scheduled as the first witness. Yahoo News will be providing a live, uninterrupted video stream of the hearings as well as instant analysis from our reporters on Capitol Hill, at the White House and elsewhere at this link, which will go live at 10 a.m. ET.
What will the witnesses say?
While we don’t know exactly what they will say in public, we do know what they said in private.
In his testimony behind closed doors, Taylor corroborated many of the claims made by the intelligence community’s anonymous whistleblower, whose complaint about Trump’s interactions with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky triggered the inquiry.
Kent testified that Trump wanted Zelensky to publicly announce an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, as well as one into a debunked conspiracy theory involving the Democratic National Committee’s emails, which were hacked by Russia during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. According to Kent, Trump wanted Zelensky to use the words “investigations,” “Biden” and “Clinton” in a public statement.
Who will be doing the questioning?
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and ranking GOP member Devin Nunes, R-Calif., will each be allotted 45 minutes for questioning — but both are expected to yield most of their time to designated staff attorneys: Steve Castor for the Republicans and Daniel Goldman for the Democrats. After that, committee members will have five minutes each. For Republicans, that includes Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, who was a last-minute addition to the GOP panel.
House Intelligence Committee Democrats
• Adam Schiff (Calif., chairman)
• Andre Carson (Ind.)
• Joaquin Castro (Texas)
• Val Demings (Fla.)
• Denny Heck (Wash.)
• Jim Himes (Conn.)
• Raja Krishnamoorthi (Ill.)
• Sean Patrick Maloney (N.Y.)
• Mike Quigley (Ill.)
• Terri Sewell (Ala.)
• Jackie Speier (Calif.)
• Eric Swalwell (Calif.)
• Peter Welch (Vt.)
House Intelligence Committee Republicans
• Devin Nunes (Calif., ranking member)
• Mike Conaway (Texas)
• Will Hurd (Texas)
• Jim Jordan* (Ohio)
• John Ratcliffe (Texas)
• Elise Stefanik (N.Y.)
• Chris Stewart (Utah)
• Michael Turner (Ohio)
• Brad Wenstrup (Ohio)
* Jordan is temporarily replacing Rep. Rick Crawford of Arkansas, who is retiring at the end of his current term.
What is the defense strategy?
After weeks of attacking the process and witnesses, Republicans are preparing for the open hearings by planning to do more of the same. According to an 18-page memo distributed by House Republicans Monday, the GOP plans to argue along the same lines as the White House: that there was nothing improper about Trump’s July 25 phone call with Zelensky (it was a “perfect” call, Trump says) and that the military aid to Ukraine approved by Congress but withheld by the Trump administration was eventually released without conditions. Democrats are expected to respond that the aid was released only after the White House learned of the whistleblower’s complaint.
Will Trump be watching?
If the president’s Twitter feed during past high-profile hearings is any indication, then yes. However, Trump is also welcoming Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the White House on Wednesday, with a joint press conference scheduled for 3:10 p.m. ET — right in the middle of Kent’s testimony.
The president also said he may release materials related to an earlier phone call he had with Zelensky, which he hints are innocent. “In order to continue being the most Transparent President in history, I will be releasing sometime this week the Transcript of the first, and therefore most important, phone call I had with the President of Ukraine,” Trump tweeted Monday night. “I am sure you will find it tantalizing!”
The House Intelligence Committee announced eight more witnesses will testify in public hearings next week:
• Tuesday, Nov. 19: Jennifer Williams, Vice President Mike Pence’s special adviser on European and Russian affairs; Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, Ukraine expert on the White House’s National Security Council; Kurt Volker, former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine; and Tim Morrison, former senior director for European affairs on the National Security Council.
• Wednesday, Nov. 20: Gordon Sondland, U.S. ambassador to to the European Union; Laura Cooper, a top Pentagon official with oversight into Ukraine policy; and David Hale, U.S. under secretary of state for political affairs.
• Thursday, Nov. 21: Fiona Hill, a former National Security Council official.
Then, after a break for Thanksgiving, the House Judiciary Committee will take the lead in the probe, with Democrats hoping to deliver a final report on their findings in early December. A possible vote on articles of impeachment could happen before Christmas.
If the House votes to impeach Trump, the process moves to the Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he is required to take up the matter on the Senate floor. McConnell would lead the Republican caucus in setting rules for a Senate trial that would be overseen by Chief Justice John Roberts.
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