Donald Trump Impeachment Inquiry Goes Public: What To Watch For In First Televised Hearings Wednesday

In the first televised hearings in the Donald Trump impeachment inquiry, Congress will hear from the former top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, who paints a devastating picture of the president's actions.

Donald Trump prepares to speak on Veterans Day.
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In the first televised hearings in the Donald Trump impeachment inquiry, Congress will hear from the former top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, who paints a devastating picture of the president's actions.

Almost two months after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced only the fourth formal impeachment inquiry into a United States president in the country’s history, Congress is set to hold the first public hearings in the impeachment of Donald Trump.

At issue in the impeachment proceedings is whether Trump abused the power of his office by holding back U.S. military aid to Ukraine in order to force the country’s president into investigating former Vice President Joe Biden. The president’s supposed conspiracy theory that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 presidential election will also be discussed.

Ukraine has been fighting a bloody border war against invading Russian forces for more than five years. Biden is currently the frontrunning potential Democratic opponent for Trump in the 2020 election. The 2016 election conspiracy theory, meanwhile, was fed to Trump by an aide to the president’s former campaign chief, Paul Manafort. That aide, Konstantin Kilimnik, was described as “a Russian spy” by foreign affairs expert Fiona Hill in earlier, closed-door testimony.

The hearings will be televised on Wednesday by most major broadcast networks as well as cable news channels, with coverage beginning at 10 a.m. EST. The first day of the public hearings features what promises to be blockbuster testimony from Bill Taylor, the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.

Bill Taylor arrives at Capitol Hilll.
  Alex Wong / Getty Images

The hearings will also stream live in the video below, courtesy of CBS News.

In the opening statement of his closed-door testimony on October 22 — as shared online by The Washington Post — Taylor flatly accused Trump of holding back the military aid to Ukraine. This was allegedly done in order to extract announcements of the supposed investigations into Biden and Ukraine’s alleged role in 2016.

The New York Times described Taylor as “a standout witness for Democrats during his closed-door testimony.” Taylor not only described Trump’s effort to “coerce” Ukraine into undertaking the investigation of Biden, but also “the real-world effects” that the president’s refusal to release the $400 million aid package had on Ukraine’s effort to fight the war against Russia.

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Also testifying on Wednesday will be Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent. In his earlier private testimony, Kent told Congress that Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani waged a “campaign of lies” against U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, according to a CNN account of the testimony.

Giuliani and Trump are reported to have wanted Yovanovitch out of the way because the veteran diplomat was expected to oppose their efforts to leverage the military aid package against Ukraine to force the politically-motivated investigations.

Trump finally succeeded in ousting Yovanovitch on May 20, when the State Department suddenly recalled her to Washington. Yovanovitch will give her public televised testimony on Friday.