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Politics Lawmakers Dispute Impact of First Public Impeachment Hearings

19:35  17 november  2019
19:35  17 november  2019 Source:   online.wsj.com

Inside Adam Schiff’s Impeachment Game Plan

  Inside Adam Schiff’s Impeachment Game Plan ‘This president, he’s like a planetary object,” Adam Schiff said. “He warps time. And things that you think happened a couple weeks ago, it turns out, only happened a day or two ago.” Schiff was slumped in a chair in his Washington office, tie askew and eyebrows ruffled, as if he’d been kneading his forehead. It was a little past 5:30 p.m. on the first Friday of October, the end of a week that, Schiff thought, “has been like three years compressed into a week.

Former ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch told lawmakers that a “smear campaign” led by President Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union who will be one of eight witnesses to testify in the inquiry’s second week of open hearings , is

“In this impeachment hearing today where we impeach presidents for treason or bribery, or other high crimes, where is the impeachable offense in that call? The revelation came as Democrats opened the first public impeachment hearing in more than two decades, moving into the public’s direct glare a

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Democrats and Republicans sparred Sunday over whether testimony during the first public impeachment hearings presented evidence of impeachable conduct by President Trump, as Washington prepared for another week of testimony from U.S. diplomats and foreign-policy officials about Ukraine policy decisions that are at the center of the congressional inquiry.

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The hearings demonstrated how “the president of the United States used taxpayer-funded military assistance to pressure a foreign leader to help him in his election campaign,” said Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D., N.Y.) on ABC. “That is solicitation of a bribe, and that is an impeachable offense listed in the Constitution.”

Republicans countered that the hearings hadn’t produced any firsthand witness testimony that would show impeachable conduct by Mr. Trump. Some current and former Trump administration officials who were a part of discussions on Ukraine policy with Mr. Trump have refused to testify.

“No one’s testified that there’s been a quid pro quo, everyone’s got second-, third-hand, fourth-hand information,” Rep. Jim Jordan, an Ohio Republican and vocal defender of Mr. Trump, said on CBS.

“There was never an investigation undertaken; there was never an announcement from [Ukrainian] President Zelensky,” he said. “It didn’t happen.”

Rep. Chris Stewart (R., Utah) disputed the premise that Democrats had strengthened their case against Mr. Trump. “The evidence is crumbling,” he said.

Appearing on the program at the same time, Mr. Maloney asked Mr. Stewart to join him in asking the State Department to release additional evidence, including emails and call records, related to the congressional investigation. “You bet,” said Mr. Stewart, “because I don’t think there’s anything there at all that is going to implicate the president.”

Impeachment hearings live updates: Vindman, three other key witnesses scheduled today in House inquiry

  Impeachment hearings live updates: Vindman, three other key witnesses scheduled today in House inquiry The Intelligence Committee is expected to hear from White House and State Department officials about Trump’s actions toward Ukraine on what expected to be a lengthy and dramatic day of testimony.Four key witnesses from the White House and State Department are scheduled to testify before the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, including three who listened in to the July phone call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that is at the heart of the impeachment inquiry.

Marie L. Yovanovitch holding a glass of wine © Christy Bowe/Zuma Press Still, Republicans expressed disappointment with how Mr. Trump reacted during the public hearings on Friday. While the former ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, was testifying publicly, Mr. Trump took to Twitter to launch new attacks on her professional competence, prompting accusations of witness intimidation from Rep. Adam Schiff (D., Calif.), the House Intelligence Committee chairman who is running the proceedings.

“I would have preferred he not provide that type of tweet,” said Sen. Ron Johnson (R., Wis.) on NBC on Sunday.

“I find the president’s tweets generally unfortunate,” said Rep. Mike Turner (R., Ohio) on CNN.

The congressional panels handling the impeachment inquiry released transcripts Saturday that provided new details about how senior White House officials felt about the July call between Mr. Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which Mr. Trump pressed his counterpart to pursue political investigations that could bolster Mr. Trump’s re-election efforts. That call is central to the impeachment inquiry.

Mr. Trump has called his conversation with Mr. Zelensky “perfect” and attacked the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry as a hoax intended to undermine his 2016 election.

But Jennifer Williams, a national-security aide to Vice President Mike Pence who listened in on the call, testified this month that she found the call concerning, according to the transcripts released this weekend. She told lawmakers that she found Mr. Trump’s request for investigations “unusual and inappropriate,” according to the transcript.

Eight more witnesses are set to testify this week in the impeachment inquiry, following three witnesses over two days last week. There will be two hearings on each of Tuesday and Wednesday, and one on Thursday.

“We are unfolding the facts; that’s what an inquiry is about,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in an interview broadcast on CBS. “There’s not even a decision made to impeach the president; this is a finding of fact, unfolding of the truth, and then a decision will be made; and that is a decision that goes beyond me,” the California Democrat added.

“If [President Trump] has information that is exculpatory,” she said, “then we look forward to seeing it.”

Members of both parties agreed Sunday that testimony on Wednesday from Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, could be pivotal because he will be the first witness who spoke directly with Mr. Trump about the foreign aid to Ukraine and potential investigations of the Ukrainian gas company where former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, served on the board.

Investigators are especially interested in the role Mr Sondland, a former hotelier who was a Trump campaign donor, played as an intermediary between Mr. Trump and senior Ukrainian officials. In revised testimony to impeachment investigators last month, Mr. Sondland acknowledged he recalled telling a top adviser to Mr. Zelensky that the aid was likely conditioned on Ukraine announcing political investigations—a reversal of his initial testimony.

When asked on CNN about whether Mr. Sondland’s conversation with a senior aide to Mr. Zelensky alarmed him, Mr. Turner said, “all of that is alarming and, as I’ve said from the beginning, I think this is not OK. The president of the United States shouldn’t even in the original phone call be on the phone with a president of another country and raise his political opponent.”

Write to Nick Timiraos at nick.timiraos@wsj.com

Impeachment hearings live updates: Vindman, three other key witnesses scheduled today in House inquiry .
The Intelligence Committee is expected to hear from White House and State Department officials about Trump’s actions toward Ukraine on what expected to be a lengthy and dramatic day of testimony.Four key witnesses from the White House and State Department are scheduled to testify before the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, including three who listened in to the July phone call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that is at the heart of the impeachment inquiry.

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