Latest updates on the impeachment hearings
- The House Intelligence Committee will kick off the first public hearings of the impeachment probe, with two key diplomatic officials set to appear for day-long testimony .
- The inquiry was sparked by a whistleblower’s complaint about President Trump’s July 25 call with the president of Ukraine, in which Mr. Trump urged him to investigate a company that had employed Joe Biden’s son.
- Since the whistleblower’s complaint came to light, officials have testified behind closed doors about an apparent effort to pressure Ukraine to announce investigations, using a White House visit and military aid as leverage.
- Download the freeCBS News appto stream live coverage of the impeachment hearings.
Washington– The House impeachment inquiry is set to burst into public view on Wednesday, astwo key witnesseswho raised concerns about efforts to pressure Ukraine will testify in the first open hearings of the probe.
Bill Taylor, the top diplomat in the US embassy in Ukraine, and George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs, will appearbefore the House Intelligence Committeeto face questions from lawmakers and committee staff.
Both have already testified behind closed doors, and told members about they became increasingly alarmed that a delay in military aid to Ukraine was tied to the country launching investigations that would benefit the president politically.
Taylor, the chargé d’affaires at the embassy in Kiev ,told the committeesleading the probe that he came to realize “that one of the key pillars of our strong support for Ukraine was threatened” by an “irregular policy channel” consisting of Rudy Giuliani and several US
Kenthas testifiedabout an effort by Giuliani and others to oust the former US ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, based on what he called a “fake news driven smear out of Ukraine” and a “classic disinformation operation.” Yovanovitch was recalled from her post three months early, and will testify before the Intelligence Committee on Friday.
The rapidly escalating investigation is just the fourth time in US history that Congress has seriously considered impeaching a president. Wednesday’s hearing is set to get underway at 10 am ET.
Who is Bill Taylor?
7: 15 am:William Taylor is the top US diplomat to Ukraine, the chargé d’affaires. A West Point graduate and former U.S. Army officer, he earned a Bronze Star for his service in Vietnam, and has been a public servant for more than 50 Years.
He has served in a variety of diplomatic roles under presidents of both parties, including a stint as the US ambassador to Ukraine from 2006 to 2009.
In his closed-door testimony in October, he said US aid to Ukraine had been explicitly tied to Ukraine’s willingness to investigate Mr. Trump’s political rivals. He also spoke of an “irregular channel” of policymaking including Giuliani, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, U.S. Ambassador to the E.U. Gordon Sondland and Kurt Volker, special envoy to Ukraine.
According to Taylor, there was a concerted effort by what he referred to as this “irregular, informal channel of US policy-making” to pressure Ukraine to commit to opening investigations into unproven allegations of Ukrainian interference in the 2016 US election, as well as into the gas company Burisma.
– Stefan Becket
Who is George Kent?
6: 30 am:George Kent is the deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, overseeing State Department policy toward a number of countries, including Ukraine.
A longtime diplomat, Kent served as deputy chief of mission in the US embassy in Kiev from 2015 to 2018, according to his State Department biography. He previously worked on anti-corruption State Department initiatives in Europe.
Kent provided closed-door testimony echoing Taylor’s statements to Congress. He said three officials had declared themselves in charge of Ukraine policy in May: Gordon Sondland, Kurt Volker and Rick Perry.
Kent also said Giuliani had engaged in a “campaign of slander” with no basis in fact against US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.
White House to “aggressively” push back
President Trump is expected to watch some of the impeachment inquiry hearings on TV Wednesday, White House officials told CBS News, and staff will be set up to “react in real time “with a” rapid response. “
The response team will include staffers from the White House press and communications teams, as well as the White House counsel and legislative affairs offices,reportsCBS News’ Fin Gomez.
The White House will be “aggressively pushing back on TV, radio, in print, with digital efforts,” including Twitter. The White House will also emphasize what they believe is an “incredibly unfair process” by the Democrats.
In the past several weeks, the White House has been meeting with Republican lawmakers in an effort to present a unified front during the hearings.
How to watch the first public impeachment hearing
How Americans view the impeachment inquiry
5: 00 am:Congressional Democrats and Republicans each appear to face a challenge moving public opinion on impeachment as public hearings begin, since many Americans say their views are already locked in, according to anew CBS News poll. There’s been essentially no change in the number who feel Mr. Trump deserves to be impeached since last month, and now the public expresses dissatisfaction with the approaches of both congressional Democrats and the president thus far.
More Americans feel the Democrats have done a bad job handling the inquiry (52% (than a good job) 48%.) And more feel Mr. Trump has done a bad job handling it (56 %) than feel he has handled it well ( (%.)
Americans favor making at least some hearings public. A large majority think testimony should either be in open hearings (47%) or a mix of open and closed, depending on the sensitivity of the testimony (42%). Just 11% say hearings should be closed. More than half of Americans continue to approve of congressional Democrats having started the impeachment inquiry.
Read more findings from the pollhere.
Democrats unveil next round of open hearings
5: 00 am:House Democrats on Tuesday evening unveiled a new slate of witnesses scheduled to appear in public hearings next week, with a total of eight officials set to testify before the House Intelligence Committee over the course of three days.
The committee will hold two hearings on Tuesday, November 19, and two on Wednesday, November 20. There will also be one hearing on Thursday, November 21.
These officials are scheduled to appear:
- Tuesday morning: Jennifer Williams and Alexander Vindman
- Tuesday afternoon: Kurt Volker and Tim Morrison
- Wednesday morning: Gordon Sondland
- Wednesday afternoon: Laura Cooper and David Hale
- Thursday: Fiona Hill