House will hold its first public hearings in the Trump impeachment inquiry next week

Key Points
  • Rep. Adam Schiff announces the first public hearings in the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.
  • He says diplomats Bill Taylor and George Kent, along with former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, will appear openly before the House Intelligence Committee next week.
  • The hearings come amid a House Democratic effort to move the impeachment investigation further into the public eye. 
Representative Adam Schiff, a Democrat from California and chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, second right, speaks with members of the media on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S., Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019.
Al Drago | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The House will hold its first public hearings in the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump next week as the probe progresses.

In a tweet Wednesday, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said diplomats Bill Taylor and George Kent will testify in an open hearing on Nov. 13. Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch will appear on Nov. 15, Schiff said.

"Those open hearings will be an opportunity for the American people to evaluate the witnesses for themselves, to make their own determinations about the credibility of the witnesses," Schiff told reporters Wednesday.

The announcement furthers the House Democratic effort to move its investigation of Trump into the public eye after weeks of interviews behind closed doors. All three of the current and former diplomats have already spoken to lawmakers as part of the inquiry. The public impeachment hearings will be the first held in the House since 1998 during proceedings against President Bill Clinton.

The committee is looking into whether Trump abused his power to influence the 2020 election by urging the Ukrainian government to investigate his political rival Joe Biden and the former vice president's son Hunter. The panel has also investigated whether the administration tried to withhold about $400 million in military aid in exchange for a probe into the Bidens or other investigations related to the 2016 election.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request to comment on the public hearings.

Former US Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor (C) arrives at the US Capitol to testify before the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees as part of the ongoing impeachment investigation of US President Donald Trump on October 22, 2019 in Washington, DC.
Oliver Douliery | AFP | Getty Images

Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, testified last month. He said U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland told him that Trump withheld aid as he pushed for Ukraine to state publicly that it would launch the probes the president sought.

Speaking to reporters after announcing the hearings, Schiff said the committee would release Taylor's testimony later Wednesday.

Kent, a State Department official, testified last month that he was told to "lay low" after he expressed concerns about efforts by Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, to push Ukraine to look into the Bidens, according to NBC News. Yovanovitch also told lawmakers that the president pushed the State Department to boot her from her post, NBC reported last month.

George Kent, deputy assistant U.S. secretary of state, arrives for closed-door testimony before House committees on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019.
Alex Edelman | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Partly responding to Republican claims that its process was too secretive, the Democratic-held House passed a resolution late last month outlining the next steps in the inquiry. The measure in part gave Schiff the ability to call public hearings.

The House started to release transcripts of witness testimony this week. In a document released Tuesday, Sondland revised his original testimony to lawmakers, saying he told a Ukrainian counterpart that Trump would not authorize the military aid until "Ukraine provided the public anticorruption statement that we had been discussing for many weeks."

Trump has denied a quid pro quo related to Ukraine. He has repeatedly called the Democratic investigation a "scam" intended to reverse the outcome of the 2016 election.

How to impeach the President of the United States
How to impeach the President of the United States