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House intelligence chair says first public hearings in Trump impeachment inquiry to begin next week

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2019-11-07 11:29:02Xinhua Editor : Gu Liping ECNS App Download

U.S. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said Wednesday that the panel's first open hearings as part of an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump will begin next week.

Schiff said in a tweet that they will hear from William Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, and George Kent, an expert on Ukraine and Russia who serves as a deputy assistant secretary at the State Department, on Nov. 13.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch will testify on Nov. 15, Schiff added.

Trump didn't take questions from reporters at the White House Wednesday afternoon before leaving for a rally in Louisiana.

Schiff's announcement comes after several weeks of closed-door depositions by former and current Trump administration officials with House panels leading the impeachment inquiry amid escalating partisan battles.

"Those open hearings will be an opportunity for the American people to evaluate the witnesses for themselves, to make their own determinations about the credibility of the witnesses," Schiff told reporters at Capitol Hill.

The impeachment inquiry, initiated late September, is looking into White House's alleged efforts to withhold a military aid to have Ukraine investigate former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, a top-tier Democratic presidential contender for the upcoming 2020 election.

Trump has denied any wrongdoing. The White House has called the impeachment inquiry unfair and illegitimate.

House committees on Wednesday afternoon released a transcript from the testimony by Taylor, who testified behind closed doors on Oct. 22.

According to the transcript, Taylor told impeachment investigators that it was his "clear understanding" that the "security assistance money would not come until" Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky committed to pursue the investigation.

The senior diplomat also said Ukraine was not aware of a hold on military aid until the end of August, over one month after a phone call between Trump and Zelensky, which is at the center of the impeachment inquiry, prompting Republicans to argue that there was no "quid pro quo."

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