WASHINGTONÂ â€“ For more than a month, House Democrats have met with witnesses behind closed doors as they sought to build the foundation for their impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.Â
Now, the impeachment inquiry will move into the public eye as House Democrats call their first two witnessesÂ â€“ Ambassador William Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine,Â and George Kent, deputy assistant secretary at the State DepartmentÂ â€“ before the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday.
The hearing starts at 10 a.m. EST. Taylor and Kent will appear at the same time.Â
In their previous closed-door testimonies, Taylor and Kent alleged efforts by the Trump administration to use American foreign policy for Trump’s political gain.Â
TaylorÂ told members of Congress and staffÂ that security aid and a White House meeting between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky would be conditioned on investigations into Democrats.Â
Kent, the State Department official overseeing European and Eurasian policy,Â saidÂ he raised red flags within the department about the influence of Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani in Ukraine policy-making andÂ the ways in which Giuliani pushed a narrative about Ukraine and Burisma, the Ukrainian energy company where former vice president Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, sat on the board.
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Kent also said he had raised concerns with a member of Joe Biden’s staff about “the perception of a conflict of interest” with Hunter Biden’s Burisma board seat, but he was told there was “no further bandwidth to deal with family-related issues at that time” since Joe Biden’s other son Beau was dying of cancer at the time.Â
Based on the transcripts of the closed-door depositions, the public hearings are likely to be full of drama as House Republicans attempt to defend the president against what they see as a “partisan” and “illegitimate” process. The president has called the inquiry a “witch hunt.”
In preparation for the hearings, Republicans moved Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, a staunch ally of the president, to the House Intelligence Committee. Jordan has repeatedly denounced the inquiry and has been a vocal defender of the president in his role as the top Republican on the House Oversight Committee.Â
Republicans released their own list of proposed witnesses for public testimony on Saturday. Their rosterÂ included Hunter Biden and the whistleblower. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee,Â said DemocratsÂ were “evaluating” Republicans’ requests and would give “due consideration to witnesses within the scope of the impeachment inquiry.”
The listÂ indicates how Republicans might try to direct lines of questioning during the inquiry, as it includes witnesses related toÂ theories about the Steele dossier and Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election.Â Rep. Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the Intelligence Committee asked about the Steele dossier during the committees’ interview with U.S. Ambassador to the European UnionÂ Gordon Sondland, according to the transcriptÂ of his testimony.Â
The list of future public hearings has not yet been released, but on Friday, the Democrats plan to hold another public impeachment inquiry hearing withÂ Yovanovitch.Â
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