The first public hearings in the impeachment inquiry, against President Donald Trump, are set to begin on Wednesday, as Democrats step up their public campaign over what they see as an abuse of power by the White House.
Lawmakers will question two career diplomats, who have expressed concern that Trump linked aid to Ukraine to a promise to investigate the president’s political rival, Joe Biden, the frontrunner in the Democratic presidential primary for the 2020 election.
Democrats are also accusing the Republican administration of running a parallel diplomatic service through Trump’s private lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, which potentially undermined national security.
The first people to testify in public will be William Taylor, the top diplomat to Ukraine and George Kent, a career diplomat.
On Friday, Marie Yovanovitch, the former Ambassador to Kiev, will testify.
She was effectively ousted this year by the White House over his apparent refusal to play ball with Giuliani.
The Democrats have been working to quickly advance the impeachment inquiry, with speculation they might be looking to wrap up the investigations before the end of the year.
Republican lawmakers have nearly uniformly backed the president.
Trump says there was no quid pro quo and has released a reconstructed transcript of one phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
The president’s opponents say the call showed pressure on Kiev and highlights Trump’s focus on investigating Biden.
There is no evidence of criminality by Biden, a former vice president.
The Democrat was in charge of Ukraine policy at the end of the Obama administration while his son was being paid handsomely to sit on a board of a Ukrainian energy company. (dpa/NAN)