WASHINGTON D.C. (WWBT) - Two career diplomats testified before a House committee and television cameras in the first day of open hearings into the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. Both detailed their accounts of allegations that Trump withheld military aid to pressure the Ukraine President to investigate his political rival Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden.
House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D - California) opened the proceeding by saying “The questions presented by this impeachment inquiry are whether President Trump sought to exploit that allies vulnerability and invite Ukraine’s interference in our elections?”
“What we will witness today is a televised theatrical performance staged by the Democrats,” House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member David Nunes (R - California) responded.
Acting Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent testified to information they already provided in closed-door hearings.
But Taylor also revealed new information, saying President Trump asked about the investigations the day after requesting them on July 25.
“The member of my staff could hear President Trump on the phone, asking Ambassador Sondland about “the investigations.” Ambassador Sondland told President Trump that the Ukrainians were ready to move forward,” Taylor said.
Kent testified that Trump’s request was also hinged on Ukraine getting a White House meeting.
“In mid-August, it became clear to me that Mr. Guiliani’s efforts to gin up politically motivated investigations were now infecting U.S. engagement with Ukraine...leveraging President Zelensky’s desire for a White House meeting,” Kent said.
While meeting with the President of Turkey in the Oval Office on Wednesday, Trump told reporters he was too busy to watch the hearing.
“There’s nothing there. I see they’re using lawyers, eh, that are television lawyers. They took some guys off television, you know, I’m not surprised to see it because Schiff can’t do his own questions,” Trump said.
Virginia Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger (D-District 7) says the open hearings will help the public hear the evidence for themselves.
“We are demonstrating to the American people that this is an effort to get to the bottom of this really hard question of what happened, what did or didn’t occur related to the president’s actions,” Spanberger said.
But Virginia Congressman Denver Riggleman (R-District 5) says what he hears clears the question of the quid pro quo allegation.
“I think they’re going to start turning away from quid pro quo because when President Trump and President Zelinski say it didn’t happen because the aid was received without quid pro quo,” Riggleman said.
Public testimony continues on Friday and next week.
Republicans asked for the whistleblower to be subpoenaed. Schiff said he’d only consider allowing that testimony behind closed doors.
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