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Impeachment: The Trump-Ukraine Inquiry Goes Public This Week

Dave Royse

The Congressional inquiry into the possible impeachment of President Donald Trump enters a new phase this week when principal players in the president’s dealings with Ukraine testify publicly before a House committee.

Public hearings start Wednesday before the House Intelligence Committee. The committee is chaired by Rep. Adam Schiff, a California Democrat. The ranking Republican member is Rep. Devin Nunes, also from California.

What To Know

All three major broadcast news networks and most major cable news networks will air live coverage of the hearings. Some networks, including C-SPAN, will carry gavel-to-gavel coverage.

The top U.S. diplomat still in Ukraine, William B. Taylor Jr., and George P. Kent, deputy assistant secretary in the European and Eurasian Bureau at the State Department, will be the first to appear, on Wednesday.

On Friday, former U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, who was recalled from her post in Ukraine, is expected to testify. 

What They're Expected To Say

Taylor, Kent and Yovanovitch have already been desposed by lawyers for the committee and for the minority Republicans on the panel.

While the depositions were done in private, transcripts of each have been released by the committee, giving a good idea of what Taylor, Kent and Yovanovitch are expected to say.

One major difference: in public hearings, members of Congress are likely to want to spend lots of time trying to make their points before the cameras, rather than simply listening to the testimony of the three witnesses.

In the depositions of Taylor, Kent and Yovanovitch, some members of the committee who were allowed to sit in on the questioning heard allegations that a separate, irregular channel existed for driving U.S. policy toward Ukraine outside of normal State Department policy, and that it involved Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

Taylor and Kent testified that they understood that Trump wanted Ukraine to investigate a company linked to Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden's son and a theory, pushed by Russia, that Ukraine may have tried to intervene in the 2016 election.

Taylor testified that he understood that military assistance to Ukraine was contingent on the country's new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, starting those investigations.

Who Else Might Testify

John Bolton, the president's former national security adviser, knows about "many relevant meetings and conversations that have not yet been discussed" that could shed light on the degree to which Trump may have pressured Ukraine to take on the investigations, according to Bolton's lawyer.

But Bolton and his former deputy, Charles Kupperman, are so far refusing to testify to the House committee as they seek a court ruling on whether the Congress can compel their testimony against the wishes of the executive branch, which doesn't want them to testify.

Related Links:

House To Hold First Impeachment Inquiry Vote Thursday; Army Officer Says Ukraine Call Improper

Trump Denies Wrongdoing In Call With Foreign Leader; Congress Seeks Whistleblower Complaint

President Donald Trump boards Air Force One Wednesday, Nov. 6. White House photo by Joyce Boghosian.

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