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House Democrats announce public impeachment hearings next week

Rep. Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, walks to a secure area at the Capitol to interview a witness in the House impeachment inquiry on President Donald Trump.

J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE/AP

By MARY CLARE JALONICK | Associated Press | Published: November 6, 2019

WASHINGTON — House Democrats will launch a major new phase of their impeachment inquiry next week with public hearings that will feature three State Department officials who have testified about their concerns about President Donald Trump's dealings with Ukraine.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who is leading the impeachment investigation, announced Wednesday that the committee will hear from top Ukraine diplomat William Taylor, career department official George Kent and former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch in hearings next Wednesday and Friday.

All three have already testified behind closed doors in the first phase of the investigation. Yovanovitch, who was ousted in May at Trump's direction, told investigators she had been told to "watch my back" and that people were "looking to hurt" her. Both Kent and Taylor testified about their concerns about her ouster as the president's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, took a leading role on Ukraine policy.

Despite Trump's daily denials, Schiff said Wednesday that the witnesses will show that "the most important facts are largely not contested" in the inquiry.

The Democrats are investigating Trump over a request made during a July phone call with Ukraine's president asking for a "favor" that Ukraine look into interference in the 2016 election and Crowdstrike, a cybersecurity company that concluded Russia hacked the Democratic National Committee in 2016.

During the phone call, Trump also asked for Ukraine to look into former Vice President Joe Biden and his family after a video emerged showing Biden boasting about threatening to withhold $1 billion in aid unless a certain Ukrainian prosecutor was fired. The prosecutor was purportedly investigating a gas company that had hired Biden's son to sit on its board of directors.

The impeachment investigators are also releasing transcripts of more of the closed-door interviews this week, including Taylor's transcript on Wednesday.

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