House Intelligence Committee hearings regarding President Donald Trump’s alleged malfeasance begin on Wednesday, providing a first public look into the impeachment inquiry beyond deposition leaks and transcripts released in the past weeks.
The impeachment inquiry was announced roughly two months about by Speaker Nancy Pelosi after whistleblower complaint emerged that claimed that Trump asked a foreign power to investigate his political rival Joe Biden during a phone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelinsky.
Since that complaint became public, a partial a non-verbatim transcript of that call had been released, raising questions about the specific claims of a “quid pro quo,” surrounding the Trump administration’s admitted withholding of congressionally approved military aid to Ukraine in return for an investigation into the Bidens and the baseless conspiracy of Ukrainian interference in 2016 U.S. general election.
The witnesses testifying Wednesday are William Taylor, the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine and George Kent, a State Department official focused on European and Eurasian affairs.
Taylor testified in his closed-door hearing that U.S. military aid to Ukraine was explicitly tied to the country announcing an investigation into Trump’s political rivals. That’s the quid pro quo that the Trump administration has so strenuously sought to deny.
Kent testified that Trump wanted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to announce an investigation of the Bidens and the 2016 election. “POTUS wanted nothing less than President Zelenskyy to go to the microphone and say investigations, Biden, and Clinton,” Kent said. He confirmed much of Taylor’s testimony and said that he was concerned that the investigations Trump was demanding were politically motivated.
Democrats are seeking to prove that Trump sought to corruptly pressure Ukraine into announcing an investigation into the family of his 2020 rival Joe Biden, by withholding military aid to the country.
Republicans, meanwhile, have derided the impeachment process for being carried out behind closed doors. Nunes has called the inquiry a “coup” and a “cheap knockoff version of the Russia hoax.” He has not gone as far as to parrot Trump’s claim that his call with Zelensky was “perfect,” but he has maintained that what Trump did was not an impeachable offense.
Watch the stream above via C-SPAN.
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