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Monday, March 1, 2021

The House holds first public impeachment hearings

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The House holds first public impeachment hearings
The House holds first public impeachment hearings

System.scripts.After weeks of gathering testimony behind closed doors, Democrats running the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump are ready to make their TV debut.

Jonah Green reports.

The first open hearings begin Wednesday with U.S. diplomats William Taylor and George Kent who are expected to detail their concerns that Trump and his administration sought to tie $391 million in security aid to Ukraine to an investigation of former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

Ousted U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch will follow on Friday.

The three are among the witnesses who could publicly corroborate the details first alleged by an anonymous whistleblower that described a July 25th phone call in which Trump asked for Ukraine's president to open up political investigations that could help his 2020 reelection.

SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) US PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: "My call was perfect!" Despite the president's claims, many witnesses were troubled by Trump's efforts regarding Ukraine.

Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, previously told lawmakers in closed-door testimony he was unhappy that the administration had held up the congressionally approved aid to help combat Russia-backed separatists in the eastern part of Ukraine.

George Kent, a senior State Department official who oversees Ukraine policy, was concerned that Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani was conducting shadow diplomacy in trying to squeeze a Biden investigation out of Kiev.

Here's how the hearings will work.

Following opening statements, questioning of the witnesses begins.

House-approved rules allow Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, a Democrat, and the panel's senior Republican, Devin Nunes to conduct multiple 90-minute rounds of questioning, alternating sides every 45 minutes.

Schiff and Nunes are considered likely to give at least part of their time to committee lawyers who have conducted much of the questioning to date in hearings held behind closed doors.

Once these rounds of questioning are finished, the committee will return to the usual House committee hearing format, with each lawmaker getting five minutes of questioning, alternating between parties.

SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) US PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: "They've gone out of their way to find people who hate Donald Trump, President Trump, the most." The president and his allies have attacked witnesses and impugned the credibility of Congress' investigation.

SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) U.S. SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM, SAYING: "I'm not going to read these transcripts.

The whole process is a joke." Republicans have slammed the inquiry as a sham, knocking the process, and arguing that weeks of testimony could not establish an impeachable offense.

Democrats say that it's clear Trump abused his power for personal gain, but the public hearings will allow Americans to decide for themselves.


ADAM SCHIFF, CHAIRMAN OF HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE, SAYING: "So, those open hearings will be an opportunity for the American people to evaluate the witnesses for themselves, to make their own determinations about the credibility of those witnesses, but also to learn firsthand about the facts of the president's misconduct." Once the public hearings are done, the House will determine whether to draft articles of impeachment.

If that passes, it then goes to a trial in the Republican-led Senate, which so far shows no appetite for removing the leader of their party from office.


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