Battle Lines Drawn Ahead of Public Impeachment Hearings

First witnesses will testify Wednesday
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 13, 2019 6:26 AM CST
White House Prepares for Impeachment Battle
The dais in the hearing room where the House will begin public impeachment inquiry hearings Wednesday, is seen on Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019, on Capitol Hill.   (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

The first public presidential impeachment hearings this century begin at 10am Wednesday—and the White House is preparing for battle. President Trump has engagements including a Wednesday meeting with Turkey's President Reccep Tayyip Erdogan that will keep him from live-tweeting the House Intelligence Committee proceedings, but his campaign plans to have around 20 staffers monitoring proceedings and releasing talking points, NBC reports. The three witnesses who will appear this week have all testified in closed-door proceedings that Trump tried to tie military aid to Ukraine to a promise to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden. More:

  • The first witnesses. William Taylor, the top US diplomat in Ukraine, and George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, will testify Wednesday, NPR reports. Both men have spoken of Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani's efforts to push a "shadow" foreign police in Ukraine. Former US ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch will testify Friday.

  • Key players. The Hill lists some key players to watch during the hearings, including House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who will be the first lawmaker to question the witnesses. Rep. Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the committee, will also be allowed to make an opening statement and question witnesses for up to 45 minutes.
  • Trump: "The circus is coming to town." Trump called Sean Hannity a "brave warrior" and tweeted parts of his anti-impeachment rant. "The circus is coming to town. The corrupt, compromised, coward & congenital liar Adam Schiff Show on Capital Hill," Trump wrote. "There is zero due process, none. It is yet another fraudulent hoax conspiracy theory. It is another Witch Hunt."
  • The Democratic case. A top Democratic official tells the New York Times that the witnesses will help make the case that Trump is guilty of "serious misconduct" by trying to "bribe, extort, condition or coerce” Ukraine's president to investigate one of his political rivals. Schiff said Tuesday that he believes Trump is guilty of both bribery and "high crimes and misdemeanors," which are impeachable offenses under the Constitution.
  • The GOP defense. The BBC reports that a memo circulating Tuesday set out a "straightforward" Republican defense of Trump. GOP lawmakers are expected to argue that Trump was acting out of legitimate concerns about corruption—and that witnesses who say otherwise are "unelected bureaucrats" who are biased against the president.
  • Debunked claims. The Washington Post lists some debunked claims likely to surface during the hearings, including Trump's argument that his July 25 phone call with Ukraine's president was "perfect."
  • The next round. House Democrats have named eight more witnesses who will appear in impeachment hearings next week, with morning and afternoon hearings on Tuesday and Wednesday and a single hearing on Thursday, CBS reports. They include National Security Council Ukraine specialist Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who will testify Tuesday morning, and US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, who will testify Wednesday morning.
  • How to watch. The proceedings will be aired live on C-Span and cable news networks, reports Business Insider. They will also be streamed on the websites of the House Intelligence Committee, the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
(Read more Trump impeachment stories.)

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