Schiff opens impeachment hearing, as Nunes blasts ‘scorched earth war’ against Trump

Clay Curtis
November 18, 2019

The hearing is the first in the public phase of the impeachment inquiry and features testimony from State Department official George Kent and top US diplomat in Ukraine Bill Taylor.

Fox News will present a special edition of "America's Newsroom" from NY with anchors Bill Hemmer and Sandra Smith ahead of the hearing on Wednesday.

In an abridged call transcript. The US diplomat also revealed that according to Zelensky's advisers, the Ukrainian president didn't want to become an "instrument" to affect 2020 US presidential election.

Trump asked Zelenskiy to investigate a debunked right-wing conspiracy theory about the 2016 election.

White House officials are quietly arguing behind the scenes that most foreign diplomacy is a series of transactions, but they concede that investigating a political rival is a bad look for the 45th president. The US ambassador also cited US envoy to the EU, Gordon Sondland, as allegedly saying that "everything" regarding Ukraine, including the military aid, was dependent on the country's president publicly declaring that probes into Burisma and Bidens would be opened.

This week's sessions, where Americans are hearing directly for the first time from people involved in events that sparked the congressional inquiry, may pave the way for the Democratic-led House to approve articles of impeachment - formal charges - against Trump.

George Kent, deputy assistant secretary for European and Eurasian affairs.

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The US House Panel also announced the list of witnesses that it seeks to question behind closed doors in the coming days - US Embassy in Ukraine staffer David Holmes and White House budget office employee Mark Sandy.

Kent said on Wednesday he did not believe the USA should ask other countries to engage in "selective, politically associated investigations" and that such "selective actions" undermine the rule of law regardless of the country.

Kent testified during his closed-door deposition that he had concerns regarding Hunter Biden's role on the board of Burisma-an admission that Republicans are likely to zero in on in their questioning and defense of the president.

"The message that I recall hearing back was that the Vice President's son Beau was dying of cancer and that there was no further bandwidth to deal with family related issues at that time", Kent said of his 2015 conversation with an unnamed Biden staff member.

In his first comments, Taylor told House lawmakers that he noticed there were two policy channels operating with Ukraine: a "regular" and an "irregular" one. He said it slowly became clear to him that conditions were being placed on Ukraine's new president and that he was told to look into possible Ukrainian interference in the 2016 U.S. election and Hunter Biden's role at Burisma. Schiff vetoed other subpoena requests, including one for Hunter Biden and another for the anonymous whistle-blower whose complaints about the July 25 call launched the Democrats into a full-court impeachment press against the White House. "Ambassador Sondland told President Trump that the Ukrainians were ready to move forward". Following the call, the staff member asked Sondland what Trump thought about Ukraine. "Ambassador Sondland responded that President Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden, which Giuliani was pressing for".

Speaking ahead of the impeachment probe, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said it was "a sad day, which I wish we [had] never had to face".

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