First Public Hearing In Trump Impeachment Probe: Key Takeaways


J. Scott Applewhite

From left, Daniel Goldman, director of investigations for the House Intelligence Committee Democrats, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif, the ranking member, Steve Castor, the Republican staff attorney, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, listen to testimony as the panel holds the first public impeachment hearings of President Trump's efforts to tie U.S. aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponents, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

By Jimmy He, Staff Writer

The House Intelligence Committee held its first public hearing concerning President Donald Trump’s impeachment inquiry on November 13th, calling on key players in the Ukrainian whistleblower scandal to testify in court.

Beginning at 10:00 am on Wednesday and lasting over five hours, the hearing featured two prominent witnesses: Bill Taylor, the current U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, and George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs.

In his testimony, Taylor admitted that Trump was more concerned with the investigations of the Bidens than the country’s relationships with Ukraine. He revealed that Trump was willing to provide military and financial aid, as well as a white house meeting with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, all if Ukraine was willing to cooperate with investigations Trump wished to launch against political rivals.

During Kent’s questioning, he revealed that Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani conducted a campaign to smear, or discredit with false accusations, U.S. officials working in Ukraine, which led to former Ukrainian Ambassador Marie L. Yovanovitch’s dismissal back in May.

“In my opinion, those attacks undermined U.S. and Ukrainian national interests and damaged our critical bilateral relationship,” said Kent, criticizing the attacks on Yovanovitch and other American officials serving in Ukraine.

Both Taylor and Kent testified that they had been increasingly alarmed at the pressure put onto Ukraine towards investigations into the Bidens, with Taylor commenting, “To withhold assistance, security to a country fighting Russia for no good policy reason, no good substantive reason — that is wrong.”

While Democrats sided with Taylor and Kent’s recount of events, Republicans called the testimonies unreliable and hearsay.

“What you heard did not happen,” said Ohio Republican Representative Jim Jordan after Taylor commented on Ukraine’s withheld and conditioned aid. “It’s not just could it have been wrong, the fact is it was wrong, because it did not happen.”

Republicans also called both witnesses to voice their opinion regarding the impeachment proceedings and President Trump’s phone call with President Zelensky on July 25th, to which Taylor replied that his job was not to take sides but to just share the information he knew.

With impeachment proceedings having been discussed behind closed doors for almost two months, this hearing has given Americans all around the nation their first glimpse at the intricacies of the inquiry.

“The trials should totally be public so all people can see and follow what is happening,” commented Senior Cheyenne Ajebe, “Also, the president is what the U.S. stands for, and the U.S. shouldn’t be represented by someone blackmailing other countries just to get something for themselves.”

“I agree [the impeachment proceedings] should be open for the public,” says Senior Cindy Ko, “I don’t follow the impeachment stuff, but the American people should because its a really important part of our country.”

With the impeachment proceedings only picking up in pace, former Ukrainian ambassador Marie Yovonovitch will be testifying in another hearing on October 15.