The House impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump is moving into its next phase this week with its first televised hearings.
For over a month, Democrats have investigated whether Trump used the powers of his office to pressure Ukraine to help his reelection by announcing investigations into his political rivals.
On Wednesday, the House Intelligence Committee will hear from two career diplomats in the US State Department — both of whom had previously testified behind closed doors.
Last week’s release of their deposition transcripts gave a preview as to what the two key witnesses might say.
What time does the hearing start?
At 10 a.m., on Wednesday, November 13, the House Intelligence Committee hearing will be gaveled in, according to an official working on the impeachment inquiry (All times are in Eastern Standard).
Who is testifying on Wednesday?
- George Kent — the deputy assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian affairs
- Bill Taylor — the charge d’affaires at the US Embassy in Kiev
What is the hearing’s schedule and format?
Rep. Adam Schiff, a Democrat from California and the committee’s chairman, and Rep. Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the panel, will kick off the hearing with their opening statements.
Taylor and Kent will then be sworn in and get to deliver their opening statements before the committee.
For the first round of questioning, Schiff and Nunes will each get 45 minutes to pose questions to the witnesses, at Schiff’s discretion. They can also yield that time to a designated committee staff member.
Only Schiff and Nunes, or Goldman and Castor, will be permitted to ask questions during this round. Schiff also has the option to add additional, extended questioning rounds.
After the extended questioning, each lawmaker on the committee will get five minutes to ask Taylor and Kent questions.
Schiff can call on the members in any order and will be strictly enforcing time limits.
Who is George Kent?
A career diplomat since 1992, George Kent currently oversees policy for a number of eastern European nations, including Ukraine. He was previously the deputy chief of mission at the US Embassy in Kiev.
Kent testified privately before House lawmakers on October 15, appearing under subpoena despite State Department orders not to cooperate with Congress.
Who is Bill Taylor?
Bill Taylor is the charge d’affaires at the US Embassy in Kiev. He is a graduate of the US Military Academy at West Point and a Vietnam War veteran. His lifetime of service as a diplomat includes stints in Afghanistan and Iraq, where he faced enemy fire in Baghdad and Fallujah.
Taylor had testified behind closed doors and his opening statement was published on October 22.
What have the witnesses said so far?
Taylor’s testimony was among the most significant so far in the investigation.
According to his opening statement, Taylor said he was told that “everything” Ukraine wanted — from a one-on-one meeting between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to hundreds of millions in security aid — was dependent on publicly announcing an investigation that included Burisma, the company that hired former Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter, and Ukraine’s alleged involvement in the 2016 election. There has been no evidence of wrongdoing by either Joe or Hunter Biden in Ukraine.
Kent told lawmakers that Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani pushed a “campaign of lies” against the former US ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, according to a transcript of his comments released last week.
He also explained how Giuliani’s work in Ukraine dated back months before the July phone call .
While Kent said he did not associate US security aid with the Ukraine investigations into Trump’s political rivals, he testified that he did think the investigations were linked to a one-on-one meeting between Trump and Zelensky, though he said that was his “personal opinion” of the matter.