The latest phase of the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump begins Wednesday morning with public hearings before the House Intelligence Committee.
The inquiry is centered around a phone conversation between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25.
Democrats claim the president betrayed his oath of office during the phone call by allegedly asking Zelensky to investigate possible corruption involving Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, ahead of the 2020 election in exchange for military aid.
Congressional Republicans have stood behind the president and have questioned not only the motives behind the inquiry but also the process put into place by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff of California.
Until now, the Democrat-led investigation has been held behind closed doors. The hearings that begin Wednesday morning will give the American public an opportunity to watch the proceedings and form their own opinions.
“We intend to conduct these hearings with the seriousness and professionalism the public deserves,” Schiff said in a letter to House members. “The process will be fair to the President, the Committee Members, and the witnesses.
“Above all, these hearings are intended to bring the facts to light for the American people.”
House Republicans clearly have their doubts about that.
“Now as the Democrats move their proceedings into open hearings, their process is still one-sided, partisan, and fundamentally unfair,” GOP members of the House Intelligence, Oversight and Government Reform, and Foreign Affairs committees said in a letter Monday defending Trump.
“There is no co-equal subpoena power,” they wrote. “There are no due process protections for the President. There is no guarantee that Chairman Schiff will call witnesses put forward by Republicans. In fact, Chairman Schiff has already denied the minority’s request to call the anonymous whistleblower whose complaint initiated the inquiry.”
Here is what to expect during the hearing Wednesday morning and how you can watch:
When are the hearings and how can you watch?
The first open hearing begins Wednesday at 10 a.m. ET. The second hearing is Friday at 9 a.m. ET. You can watch both hearings live on The Western Journal’s Facebook page.
Who will be testifying and when?
On Wednesday morning, Schiff has called for two witnesses: William Taylor and George Kent.
William Taylor is a U.S. diplomat for the Ukrainian embassy who claimed in his deposition that there was an “irregular, informal channel of U.S. policymaking with respect to Ukraine” that he believes compromised national security.
George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary in the State Department’s Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, said in his deposition that Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal attorney, was involved in the allegations against Trump.
On Friday morning, Marie Yovanovitch will testify.
Marie Yovanovitch, former Ukrainian ambassador, described Giuliani’s alleged campaign to remove her from her position.
Will Republicans get to add any of their own witnesses?
On Saturday, Republic Rep. Devin Nunes of California, ranking member of the Intelligence Committee, sent a letter to Schiff with a list of requested witnesses to add to the public hearings.
Hunter Biden and Devon Archer — former board members of the Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings — and the anonymous whistleblower who sparked the impeachment inquiry are among the eight witnesses the GOP would like added to hearing, along with “more than half a dozen” informants relied upon by the whistleblower.
But that list of proposed witnesses must be approved by the Democrats, who have given no indication they will allow the Republicans’ witnesses to be called.
What will happen after this week’s hearings?
Democratic representatives expect at least one more week of public hearings, but House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler told CNN that they ultimately intend to move the impeachment process forward “as expeditiously as possible.”
“I’m not going to speculate on a timeline,” he said, adding that Democrats are hoping to vote on impeachment before Christmas, which could potentially lead to a trial in the Senate.
Trump is only the fourth president to undergo an impeachment inquiry, and of those four only two have been formally impeached — Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, neither of whom was convicted by the Senate or removed from office.
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