On Wednesday Nov. 13, the U.S. House of Representatives began their public hearings into the impeachment process for President Donald J. Trump.
The House Intelligence Committee began testimonies with acting Ambassador to Ukraine, William Taylor. When discussing the background of U.S. and Ukraine relations, Taylor emphasized the importance of United States policies for Ukraine to deal with Russian invasion and battling corruption. During the hearing, Taylor set the stage for future witnesses to come forth about their interactions with President Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. Taylor stated, “I worried what I had heard concerning the role of Rudy Giuliani, who has made several controversial statements about Ukraine and U.S. policy toward the country.” Taylor’s account through the rest of his testimony echoed the same sentiment that he felt an alternative agenda was being carried through by Rudy Giuliani, one stressing newly elected President Zelensky of Ukraine’s need to be involved in U.S. domestic policy.
During Wednesday’s testimony, House Intelligence Rank Member Representative Devin Nunes led the charge to recognize the impeachment inquiry as a partisan effort to paint President Trump as a “Russian agent.” He stated that the impeachment investigation is an act of undermining the President, and “the Democrats rejected most of the Republicans’ witness requests, resulting in a horrifically one-sided process.”
On Friday Nov. 15, Former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch was called to testify. In a powerful statement she addressed, “How could our system fail like this? How is it that foreign corrupt interests could manipulate our government?” Yovanovitch testified that she was victimized by a smear campaign led by Rudy Giuliani, who promoted foreign private interests over the protection of the U.S. abroad. After her dismissal, in a released July 25 transcript call between President Trump and President Zelensky, President Trump told President Zelensky that Yovanovitch was “bad news” and going to “go through some things.” During her hearing Yovanovitch expressed, “I was shocked and devastated I would be in a phone call between two heads of state in such a manner.” What stood out as the highlight of her testimony was her call to the State Department on their lack of action to protect diplomats like herself from such attacks or stepping to prevent the “hijacking” of Ukrainian policy by corrupt agendas.
The Friday hearing also gave way to Representative Elise Stefanik. Stefanik played a key role in the questioning of Yovanovitch, acknowledged for calling out Rep. Schiff for trying to limit her and members of her party during the hearing “simply because we are republicans.” Afterwards President Trump gave the spotlight to Stefanik, describing her as a “new republican star” on Twitter.
On Wednesday Nov. 20, the Intelligence Committee heard from Gordon Sondland, the Ambassador to the European Union, who made headlines when he claimed, “Everyone was in the loop.” In his testimony, Sondland explained that working with Rudy Giuliani to coerce Ukraine into investigating the Biden family was a direct order from President Trump. In regard to the calls between President Trump and President Zelensky, Sondland ended his witness deposition confirming there was “quid pro quo,” an answer to the question the House committee had been asking from the start.
In more recent news, Dr. Fiona Hill, President Trump’s former top advisor on Russia and Europe, and David Holmes, a counselor for political affairs at the U.S. embassy in Ukraine, ended the week as the last witnesses of the impeachment inquires. Hill spoke with urgency during her hearing that both of the United States’ political parties must be paying attention to Russia right now to insure protection of American democracy. She claimed, “Right now Russian security services and their proxies have geared up to repeat their interference in the 2020 election… [and] we are running out of time to stop them.” Holmes also captured headlines when he avowed that Rudy Giuliani had “a direct influence on the foreign policy agenda” being carried out in Ukraine, supporting the claims made by the witnesses before him.
With all the inquires in the last two weeks bringing the Ukraine details into the limelight, many republicans still believe there is not enough evidence to impeach President Trump. Leading the republican party through the House’s impeachment process, Representative Jim Jordan maintained the belief of him and his party that, “the American people see through all this. They understand this whole process is unfair, and they see through this whole darn sham.”
This is the first set of impeachment hearings in the last two decades, with the democratic leaders pursuing to wind up the House impeachment process by the end of year. The Intelligence Committee will then pass their reports to the Judiciary Committee, who will conduct their own impeachment inquiry. If the House of Representatives then decides to approve articles of impeachment, all other Senate issues will be put on hold in order to conduct a Senate trial in 2020.