The first day of public hearings in the House Democrats’ ongoing impeachment inquiry into President Trump’s requests for Ukraine to investigate his political rivals concluded in Washington, D.C., Wednesday with Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, and George Kent, a senior State Department official, testifying in an open session. Marie Yovanovitch, the ousted former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, will testify Friday. See links to original coverage of the testimony from Yahoo News as well as instant analysis of the proceedings in the blog below.
Day 2 preview
WASHINGTON (AP) — An ambassador, her firing and a pair of fixers.
Those details stand at the center of Marie Yovanovitch’s story, a personal ordeal she’ll describe to Americans and the world Friday as part of the Democrat-driven impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump.
What led to the career diplomat’s firing, Democrats say, is a key chapter in Trump’s holdup of military aid while he pressured Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden’s son. Republicans dismiss that as not credible.
Was Yovanovitch an obstacle to corruption and casualty of a bribery scheme? Or disloyal to a president fully empowered to choose his own ambassadors? And how will Trump and his allies treat what he called “the woman” as she speaks out for the first time?
Congress digs into her testimony at 9 a.m. on the second day of public impeachment hearings against the nation’s 45th president.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., appear during the first day of public impeachment hearings on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on Wednesay. (Photo: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
Taylor and Kent are done. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff has called a brief recess before the panel takes up a motion raised earlier by a member of the committee.
Republican ranking member Devin Nunes speaks to counsel Steve Castor during the impeachment inquiry hearings on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. (Photo: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
Fact-checking a conspiracy
The Associated Press is fact-checking some of the statements made during today's impeachment hearings. Rep. Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the panel, floated the discredited theory that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 U.S. election:
THE FACTS: The theory that Ukrainians interfered in the U.S. election and that Democrats cooperated in that effort is unsubstantiated. If U.S. officials showed a lack of interest in pursuing the matter, it’s because they considered it “fiction,” as one put it.
Trump himself was told by his officials that the theory was "completely debunked" long before the president pressed Ukraine to investigate it anyway, according to Tom Bossert, Trump’s first homeland security adviser. And in testimony at the closed-door hearings that preceded Wednesday’s public session, Fiona Hill, former special assistant to Trump on the National Security Council, said it was bogus.
“It is a fiction that the Ukrainian government was launching an effort to upend our election," Hill testified. "I'm extremely concerned that this is a rabbit hole that we're all going to go down in between now and the 2020 election, and it will be to all of our detriment.”
See more of AP's fact-check here.
The impeachment hearings are shown on a screen inside a casino in Las Vegas on Wednesday. (Photo: John Locher/AP)
'Trump is welcome to take a seat right there'
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, used his time for questioning to complain that House Democrats refuse to allow Republicans to call the whistleblower, who he referred to as "the person who started it all," as a witness.
Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., clapped back: "I'd say to my colleague, I'd be glad to have the person who started it all come in and testify. President Trump is welcome to take a seat right there."