TheHouseimpeachment inquiry intoDonald Trumpis beginning its first public hearings withBill Taylor, acting US ambassador toUkraine, and State Department officialGeorge Kent. Both witnesses are delivering joint-testimony to Congress as the president derides the process as a “partisan sham”.
Mr Trump has meanwhile reportedly been threatening to fire his acting chief of staffMick Mulvaneyover his recent blunders. He also previously considered axingMichael Atkinson, the inspector general of the US intelligence community, over his handling of the whistleblower complaint about his call with Ukrainian PresidentVolodymyr Zelensky, according toThe Washington Post.
Meanwhile, as seniorRepublicansinsist they will not be watching the hearings and Mr Trump hosts his Turkish counterpartRecep Tayyip Erdoganat the White Houseon Wednesday, progressive DemocratAlexandria Ocasio-Cortezis calling for the resignation of senior Trump aideStephen Millerover racist emails he sent to the right-wing news siteBreitbart,in which he advocatedwhite nationalistideologies.
Download the new Indpendent Premium app
Sharing the full story, not just the headlines
Please allow a moment for our live blog to load
Watch the first public impeachment hearings live and check out all of The Independent’s live news and analysis below:
William Taylor is explaining why “more Ukrainians would die” if the US does not continue providing military assistance to the country, as Russia continues its attacks.
He says that any delay in the military assistance may have caused possible danger for Ukrainians on the frontlines.
Ohio Republican Jim Jordan left the room. He had spent most of the hearing thus far repeatedly rocking back and forth.
Adam Schiff is asking more questions to William Taylor about Donald Trump’s phone call with Ambassador Gordon Sondland the day after the president spoke with Volodymyr Zelensky.
William Taylor says “Ukraine is important to the security of the United States” and is “struggling to join Europe” as it is “repeatedly attacked by Russia”.
William Taylor directly cites Donald Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, for eroding career diplomats’ efforts towards US-Ukraine relations:
“The odd push to make President Zelenskyy publicly commit to investigations of Burisma and alleged interference in the 2016 election showed how the official foreign policy of the United States was undercut by the irregular efforts led by Mr. Giuliani. “
A notable different in how Fox News and MSNBC are covering today’s historic impeachment hearings:
William Taylor is describing in detail his reactions to requests for investigations from the White House:
“A formal US request to the Ukrainians to conduct an investigation based on violations of their own law struck me as improper, and I recommended to Ambassador Volker that we ‘stay clear.’ “
This bit of evidence from William Taylor’s opening remarks appears to be some of the most significant revelations from the first public hearings thus far.
If confirmed, it would indicate that Donald Trump was acutely interested in Ukraine launching investigations into the Bidens:
House members seem absolutely aware of the historic moment they are sitting in. Andrew Feinberg snapped this picture of New Jersey Democrat Tom Malinowski taking a photo of the room from the front of the hearings:
William Taylor explains the need for US military aid in Ukraine during his opening remarks:
“Even as we sit here today, the Russians are attacking Ukrainian soldiers in their own country and have been for the last 4 years. I saw this on the front line last week. The day I was there, a Ukrainian soldier was killed and 4 were wounded. “
Here’s the perspective from Andrew Feinberg, who is sitting in the room where the impeachment proceedings are being held: “Democrats for the most part are listening intently, Jim Jordan still rocking back forth in his chair, looks bored. ) and Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio) keep talking to each other. ”
Donald Trump has retirement this video from the White House as William Taylor delivers his opening remarks:
William Taylor says in his opening remarks:
“I encountered an irregular, informal channel of US policymaking with respect to Ukraine, unaccountable to Congress. A channel that included “Kurt Volker, Gordon Sondland, Rick Perry, Mick Mulvaney, and” as I subsequently learned, Mr. Giuliani. “
William Taylor has revealed Donald Trump was keen to learn about an update on the investigations a day after his call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky:
William Taylor said there “appeared to be two channels” in dealing with US-Ukraine policy: “One regular, and one irregular,” he added.
The “irregular, informal channel” was “unaccountable to Congress” and included Kurt Volker, Gordon Sondland, Rick Perry, Mick Mulvaney and Rudy Giuliani, according to Mr Taylor.
Ambassador William Taylor says career diplomat Marie Yovanovitch has been “poorly treated” by officials within the Trump administration. He said he was “concerned about the role of Rudy Giuliani” in the president’s dealings with Ukraine.
A notable takeaway from Ambassador William Taylor’s opening remarks:
“As the Committee is aware, I wrote that withholding security assistance in exchange for help with a domestic political campaign in the United States would be ‘crazy.’ I believed that then and I believe it now. “
“I am not here to take one side or the other, or to advocate for any particular outcome of these proceedings,” William Taylor says.
William Taylor’s entire opening remarks can be read in full below:
Here is the first page of Ambassador William Taylor’s opening statements: