Impeachment proceedings against U.S. President Donald Trump for pressuring Ukraine to investigate a political rival will reach a critical stage next week when a Democratic-led congressional committee holds its first public hearings on the issue.
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.
The public testimony will feature William Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent, and former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.
They will testify on Nov. 13 and 15, said Adam Schiff, the committee’s Democratic chairman who wrote on Twitter that there was “More to come.” The diplomats and others have already testified to lawmakers from both parties behind closed doors.
Televised public hearings featuring U.S. officials testifying in Congress about alleged wrongdoing by Trump could crowd out other issues like the economy and immigration as voters turn their minds to the November 2020 election.
That might damage Trump, though some of his supporters say the impeachment drive could actually boost his re-election chances by showing him at loggerheads with Washington-based political foes.
Democrats had said they had enough material to move forward with public impeachment hearings, which would be a likely prelude to articles of impeachment - formal charges - against Trump being brought to a vote in the House.
“We are getting an increasing appreciation for just what took place during the course of the last year and the degree to which the president enlisted whole departments of government in the illicit aim of trying to get Ukraine to dig up dirt on a political opponent as well as further a conspiracy theory about the 2016 election that he believed would be beneficial to his re-election campaign,” Schiff told reporters.
Taylor and Kent will be a good watch, but the real main even should be Marie Yovanovich, the former Ambassador to Ukraine who was removed from her post for not going along with the Trump regime's plans to pressure the Ukrainian government into fabricating an investigation into Hunter Biden.
But that won't stop Republicans from starting their own attention-grabbing shows.
Senate Republicans are privately debating whether they should use an impeachment trial of President Trump to scrutinize former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter as some Trump allies push to call them as witnesses while others dismiss the suggestion as a risky political ploy.
The ongoing discussions are a revealing glimpse into the fault lines in the GOP ahead of a possible trial of Trump in the Senate, where there are varying appetites among Republicans for the type of political combat relished by the president and his most ardent defenders.
Among a group of Trump’s allies inside and outside Congress, there is intense and growing interest in countering the House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry by delving into Hunter Biden’s business dealings in Ukraine and China. Because his father was vice president at the time, these allies think it could be a way to explain why Trump pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in a July 25 phone call to “look into” the Bidens, who have denied any wrongdoing.
That effort gained steam on Capitol Hill last week at a private lunch where Republican Sens. Rand Paul (Ky.) and John Neely Kennedy (La.) raised the idea of summoning Hunter Biden, said two people familiar with the exchange who, like others in this article, spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly. Paul took his private push public at a campaign rally with the president Monday night in Kentucky.
“I say this to my fellow colleagues in Congress, to every Republican in Washington: Step up and subpoena Hunter Biden and subpoena the whistleblower!” Paul told the crowd, also referring to the unnamed intelligence official who first raised alarms about the president’s Ukraine conduct.
Trump will demand that this be done. Lindsey Graham will want to. Mitch may stop them, I don't know, but these clowns will do anything to distract America.