Published: Fri, November 08, 2019
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

Public impeachment hearings set next week

Public impeachment hearings set next week

According to those who heard his testimony, Kent told investigators that the White House picked "three amigos" - diplomats Gordon Sondland and Kurt Volker, and Energy Secretary Rick Perry - to run Ukraine policy.

Taylor and George Kent, a deputy assistant secretary of State, are scheduled to testify in a public hearing November 13, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank) announced Wednesday.

The Democrats are investigating Trump's requests for Ukrainian actions as the USA withheld military aid from the country.

Sondland submitted the supplemental testimony on Monday after testimony by other officials, including Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat at the embassy in Kyiv.

Earlier in his deposition, Taylor said Sondland, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Ambassador Kurt Volker and Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani were running an "irregular, informal channel of United States policymaking with respect to Ukraine".

"A$3 s I understood the reason for investigating Burisma was to cast Vice President Biden in a bad light", Taylor said.

Taylor said Sondland told him repeatedly that Trump did not view the arrangement as a "quid pro quo".

"I said that resumption of the USA aid would likely not occur until Ukraine provided the public anticorruption statement that we had been discussing for many weeks", Sondland said Tuesday. Schiff said the hearings would be an opportunity for the American people to judge for themselves.

"And I think you will see throughout the course of the testimony - not only their testimony but many others - the most important facts are largely not contested", Schiff said in a brief statement to reporters after tweeting the news.

The Capitol Hill hearings will be broadcast live as lawmakers from both parties and trained staff question witnesses, many of whom the White House has sought to discredit. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal staffing.

Trump, backed by Giuliani, asked new Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in a July telephone call to probe Biden and his family and to investigate Ukraine's possible role in the 2016 presidential election.

Kent also raised concerns about the Trump administration's recall of its Ukraine ambassador, Marie Yovanovitch. In fact, Ambassador Sondland said everything was dependent on such an announcement, including security assistance.

"They know bringing this into 2020 is very risky for them politically", Sekulow said on his radio show.

All three have already testified behind closed doors.

"Your failure or refusal to appear at the deposition, including at the direction or behest of the president, shall constitute further evidence of obstruction of the House's impeachment inquiry and may be used as an adverse inference against you and the President".

Kent's testimony added yet another voice to the case that Giuliani manipulated U.S. foreign policy for Trump's political benefit.

In his appearance last month, Taylor told lawmakers that it was the "unanimous opinion of every level of interagency discussion" that the military aid should be resumed without delay. After open hearings, Schiff is expected to issue a report on his committee's findings and recommendations to send to the House Judiciary Committee, which will consider any potential articles of impeachment.

Under questioning from Rep. Lee Zeldin of NY. Zeldin says that information was "secondhand or thirdhand".

Sondland had testified on October 17 at a closed-door hearing that he was not on the call and had not seen the transcript of the call until its release on September 25.

Taylor also quoted himself as telling another diplomat that it would be a "nightmare" if the Trump administration withheld the military aid even if Ukraine committed to the desired investigations. He told investigators he did not know that the Ukraine firm Burisma, that Mr Trump wanted Ukraine to investigate, was linked to Mr Biden's son Hunter.

They didn't want to do that, he said. Taylor told members of Congress that he objected to that policy and voiced his concerns with then-national security adviser John Bolton and in writing in a cable to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

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