Wednesday was the first day of the public phase of the President Trump impeachment inquiry, with William Taylor, the top US diplomat in Ukraine, and George Kent, a senior State Department official, testifying before the House Intelligence Committee. The next hearing will be Friday, when US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch testifies. Some takeaways from Wednesday:
- Surprises can still happen. Both witnesses had already provided extensive testimony in closed-door hearings, so one of the big surprises was that there was a surprise, writes Susan Page at USA Today. Taylor told lawmakers that he had recently found out that a Kiev embassy staffer overheard Trump ask about "the investigations" during a phone call with Gordon Sondland, the US ambassador to the European Union. The Taylor aide quoted Trump as saying he cares more about the investigation of the Bidens than Ukraine itself. Sondland will testify next week.
- The importance: The revelation is "an example of Trump personally involving himself at the ground level with the push to have the Ukrainian president announce these investigations," per Axios. It would make it harder to say Rudy Giuliani had "gone rogue." Trump supporters, though, say a second-hand report of an overheard phone call is pretty thin.