Public can view impeachment witness interviews next week
WASHINGTON (CN) – The first public hearings in the House impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump will take place next week, House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff announced Wednesday.
Schiff tweeted this morning that the first to testify publicly before the House will be William Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, and George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs.
After Taylor and Kent testify on Nov. 13, lawmakers will hear from former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch on Nov. 15.
All three have already appeared behind closed doors before the three committees conducting the impeachment inquiry, and they have offered some of the most explosive and damaging testimony to President Donald Trump’s defense against impeachment that has come to light to date.
The committees released a transcript of Yovanovitch’s testimony on Monday, showing the former ambassador was concerned about the work Rudy Giuliani and other Trump allies were doing to push Ukraine to open investigations into a conspiracy theory about the 2016 U.S. presidential election as well as into former Vice President Joe Biden and work his son Hunter did for the Ukrainian energy company Burisma.
Yovanovitch, who was recalled from her post in May, testified Giuliani and his associates were involved in efforts to push her from her job. She said one Ukrainian official told her she “really needed to watch [her] back.” Taking a prominent role in trying to push her out were Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, two businessmen with ties to Giuliani who were indicted in New York last month on campaign-finance charges.
Trump criticized Yovanovitch on the July 25 phone call with Zelensky that is integral to the impeachment probe, calling her “bad news.” Yovanovitch testified she was “shocked” when she learned Trump had referred to her that way in the call.
In some of the most explosive testimony to date, Taylor last month testified he was told a $400 million military aid package and a White House meeting for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky hinged on Ukraine’s government publicly announcing investigations into the Bidens and the 2016 election.
In text messages released earlier in the inquiry, Taylor told U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland he thought it was “crazy” to withhold the funding in exchange for an investigation that would boost Trump’s chances in the 2020 presidential election.
Though he initially said he was unaware of the reason for the aid being withheld, Sondland later revised his testimony to House investigators, telling them there was in fact a link between the military aid and Ukraine’s announcement of the investigations.
Trump has publicly attacked Taylor on Twitter, calling him a “never Trumper diplomat” the day after Taylor gave closed-door testimony.
Kent went before the committee on Oct. 15, telling lawmakers he was told to “lay low” and let Sondland, Energy Secretary Rick Perry and special envoy Kurt Volker handle diplomatic policy in Ukraine. He also expressed concerns to lawmakers about the work Giuliani was doing in Ukraine.