The first open hearing of President Donald Trump's impeachment process brought an uncomfortable testimony to the US president: that of US Ambassador to Ukraine, William Taylor. In late October, he told lawmakers that the government was making support for Ukraine conditional on ongoing investigations into the business of Joe Biden's son, Trump's political opponent.
Taylor revealed today that Trump questioned US Ambassador Gordon Sondland about the investigations. The question was asked during a July call, accompanied by a member of Taylor's team.
Speaking to House Intelligence Commission members this morning, Taylor said his team member questioned Sondland about what Trump thought about Ukraine. "Ambassador Sondland said Trump is more concerned with the Biden investigations which (Rudy) Giuliani has been pushing," Taylor said.
According to him, when he testified on October 22, he was not aware of this information. The ambassador was questioned by lawmakers if he was aware of foreign aid conditioned by the US president's personal or political interests. "No, I didn't see it," said the diplomat.
The conversation with Sondland would have taken place, according to the testimony, on July 26, a day after Trump pressured Ukrainian President Volodmir Zelenski to investigate Biden and Democrat's son Hunter Biden at a time when US military financial aid to Ukraine was suspended.
Trump's impeachment process was opened by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in late September and is centered on the US President's alleged attempt to use his influence with another nation to harm a political opponent.
Taylor has served Democratic and Republican governments since Ronald Reagan's presidency. He was retired when he was invited to take over the US Embassy in Kiev, Ukraine – a position he held from 2006 to 2009.
In late October, he gave testimony behind closed doors to deputies when, according to the meeting transcript, he said Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani was pressuring Ukraine to intervene in US domestic policy. He confirmed at the time that US support for Ukraine was conditional on ongoing investigations into Biden's son.
Wednesday's session (13) marks the beginning of a new Democrat strategy. With the live broadcast of public hearings, impeachment gains new dimension and the opposition tries to gain support at the electoral base and independent voters to bolster the impeachment process. So far, the party is aware that, even if the impeachment is approved by the House, Trump's removal would eventually be rejected by the Republican majority Senate.
Wednesday's hearing also heard testimony from George Kent, deputy secretary of state for European affairs. During questions from lawmakers, Kent said there was no ground for allegations that Biden, when vice president during the Obama administration, tried to stop investigations of the Ukrainian gas company, Burisma Holdings, of which his son was on the board. administration. This has been a claim by Trump's allies during the impeachment process.
Kent told the committee he was "alarmed" by Giuliani's efforts to "conduct politically motivated investigations" both because it ended the expulsion of former US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch and because they were "infecting the US relationship." with Ukraine ".
Queue to watch testimonials
The line to join the House Intelligence Commission began around 8 am, two hours before the session began. At least 150 people were waiting for a seat to watch both statements this afternoon. With limited places, those who stayed out watched the progress of the session on the other side of the wall by cell phone.
As the session went on, Trump used Twitter to criticize the Democrats. In a video posted on the White House account – and reposted by the president on his personal account – he states that Democrats are trying to hit him. "They are trying to stop me because I am fighting for you. And I will never let that happen," the president said. Trump will issue a statement to the press in the afternoon after receiving Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the White House.