Public hearings in Trump impeachment probe start next week


The top US diplomat in Ukraine, Bill Taylor, told House impeachment investigators last month that President Donald Trump directed officials to tie military aid to Ukraine to demands that the country open political advantageous probes, according to a transcript of his testimony made public Wednesday. American diplomat Gordon Sondland acknowledged what Democrats contend is a clear quid pro quo with Ukraine, pushed by President Donald Trump and his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

The transcripts, newly released on Tuesday, Nov. 5, revealed that Sondland revised his prior testimony to acknowledge that he told a top Ukrainian official USA aid wouldn't likely resume unless the country released a statement about fighting corruption.

"I said that resumption of the USA aid would likely not occur until Ukraine provided the public anticorruption statement that we had been discussing for many weeks", Sondland said in the new statement, which was made public by the House committees leading the inquiry, along with the transcript of his original testimony.

First to testify next Wednesday will be Taylor, the top diplomat in Ukraine, who relayed in a closed-door session his understanding that there was a blatant quid pro quo, with Trump holding up military aid to Ukraine, a US ally facing threats from its giant neighbor Russian Federation.

Trump has blasted the House inquiry as a witch hunt and accused Democrats of unfairly targeting him in hope of reversing his surprise victory in the 2016 presidential election.

The White House later released the transcript of the phone call showing that President Trump did not explicitly leverage military aid in order to get Ukraine to investigate.

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.

In the transcripts and accompanying cache of text messages, USA diplomats are shown trying to navigate the demands of Mr Trump and his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, who they soon learn is running a back-channel U.S. foreign policy on Ukraine. Marie Yovanovitch, who was abruptly pulled from her post as United States ambassador to Ukraine in May, will testify on Nov 15.

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In his questions to Taylor, Castor asked the diplomat if he'd ever heard of or spoken with the anonymous whistleblower who first reported the July Trump-Zelenskiy phone call.

Bolton could be a star witness for the Democrat-led House inquiry, and his testimony would go against strong opposition from the White House.

Jennifer Williams, an aide to Vice President Mike Pence, arrives for a deposition as part of the House Impeachment inquiries on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., November 7, 2019.

Democrats leading the House committees investigating the USA president and his aides over their pressure campaign on Ukraine would like to hear from recently-departed national security adviser John Bolton, but it's not clear if he'll ever appear to give testimony.

U.S. Ambassador Gordon Sondland (C) arrives at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, on October 17, 2019. The vice president has strongly defended Trump, saying that the transcript of the call in which Trump asks Zelensky for a favor does not show a quid pro quo. He told investigators he did not know that the Ukraine firm Burisma, that Mr Trump wanted Ukraine to investigate, was linked to Mr Biden's son Hunter.

Adam Schiff, the Democratic chairman of the House intelligence panel, said the requests are due by Saturday.

If the Democratic-controlled House votes to impeach Trump, the Republican-controlled Senate would then hold a trial on whether to remove him from office.