House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff promised that public impeachment hearings will begin next week, Reuters reports. Schiff revealed the names of three people who are slated to publicly testify, and more names are likely forthcoming.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi formally began the impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump's phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, during which he purportedly pressured Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden and his son in exchange for hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid -- a so-called quid pro quo. Since that time, some people believed to have knowledge of the situation have testified behind closed doors, with bits and pieces of their testimony being made public via transcripts.
During these few weeks, the House has been promising that this private testimony would be followed by public hearings, without specifically announcing the date on which that would begin.
Why Has The Testimony So Far Taken Place Behind Closed Doors?
The answer to that question largely depends on whom you ask. As a Bloomberg op-ed claims, Democrats have held the meetings behind closed doors for a variety of reasons, the stated one being that it's being done to protect the identify of the whistleblower, whose complaint got this impeachment inquiry moving. By law, the whistleblower is protected from having his or her name revealed publicly, so Democrats are holding meetings in secret to protect the whistleblower.
Similarly, Democrats are holding meetings in secret in order to control the process and "prevent disruption" from Republicans seeking to derail the inquiry, says Bloomberg writer Noah Feldman.
Who Is Scheduled To Testify Publicly?
So far, 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 are all scheduled to appear before the House in public hearings on November 13. In Yovanovitch's case, testimony will be delivered on November 15.
All three have already given private testimony considered by many to be particularly damning of Trump.
Kent, for example, told lawmakers that he was concerned about Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani's efforts to pressure Ukraine six months ago, as USA Today reports, basing that claim on second-hand information from Virginia Representative Gerry Connolly.
Schiff has promised that he will reveal the names of other people scheduled to testify in the coming days.
As NBC News reports, Schiff says that holding the impeachment hearings publicly will be an "opportunity for the American people to evaluate the witnesses themselves."