House Democrats announce public impeachment hearings to begin next week

Kevin Cramer

Sen. Kevin Carmer. | Drew Angerer Getty Images

Also scheduled to testify publicly next week are former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch and career state department official George Kent.

In a move that raises the stakes ahead of a presidential election year, Democrats said on Wednesday the U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee would hold open hearings with three career U.S. diplomats who have expressed alarm about Trump's dealings with Ukraine.

House committees on Wednesday afternoon released a transcript from the testimony by Taylor, who testified behind closed doors on October 22.

The impeachment inquiry is looking into whether Mr. Trump violated his oath of office by pressuring the Ukrainian government to investigate Joe Biden, now the frontrunner for the Democratic ticket to the 2020 Presidential race and his son, Hunter Biden, who was a director at Ukrainian gas company Burisma.

Schiff, whom Republicans have attacked for presiding over what they claim is a partisan impeachment process, told reporters Wednesday that the public hearings will allow the public to hear the evidence and "to evaluate the witnesses for themselves, to make their own determinations about the credibility of the witnesses, but also to learn first-hand about the facts of the president's misconduct".

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Mr Sondland, in an addendum to his sworn earlier testimony, said that military assistance to America's East European ally was being withheld until Ukraine's new president agreed to release a statement about fighting corruption as Mr Trump wanted.

"That was my clear understanding, security assistance money would not come until the President committed to pursue the investigation", Taylor said of Trump's push to have Ukraine pledge to probe a conspiracy theory about 2016 election interference hailing from Ukraine-not Russia-and Burisma, the Ukrainian energy company Joe Biden's son, Hunter, once sat on the board of. "I just want to be real clear that, again, as of July 25th, you have no knowledge of a quid pro quo involving military aid".

Citing people familiar with the matter, the paper reported that Trump's request came sometime around the White House's September 25 release of a transcript of the call.

The spark for the inquiry was the July phone call from Trump to the new Ukrainian president.

Under questioning from Rep.

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"Rudy had some bad issues with Ukraine, and until Rudy was satisfied, the president wasn't going to change his mind", EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland said in his testimony to House investigators.

Chairman Adam B. Schiff of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence said Thursday that Mr. Kent and his colleagues "recognized the impropriety of Trump's Ukraine pressure campaign to undertake politically-motivated investigations". While Taylor would not explicitly say the arrangement was a quid pro quo - "I don't speak Latin", he responded at one point to Schiff - Taylor said that the aid was conditioned on the investigations.

The next day, Mr Volker said that Ukraine should insert into the proposed statement that the planned investigation would include issues "involving Burisma and the 2016 elections" - a reference to a discredited theory that Ukraine, not Russian Federation, was behind the interference in the 2016 U.S. election.

"A political campaign for the reelection of President Trump", Taylor said. "Both transcripts released today show there is even less evidence for this illegitimate impeachment sham than previously thought, " Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement.

Wednesday was third straight day that congressional investigators released full depositions of key players in the Ukraine affair, which has led to the impeachment inquiry into Trump.

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