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US Democrats set first of public impeachment hearings

Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff in 2012. (Adam Schiff/Facebook)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Democrats leading the impeachment inquiry of U.S. President Donald Trump in the House of Representatives have said they will hold two days of public hearings next week featuring testimony from three key State Department officials.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who is leading the investigation, on November 6 said top Ukraine diplomat William Taylor, career department official George Kent, and former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch will appear in hearings on November 13 and 15.

House Democrats are holding hearings that could lead to the impeachment of Trump over his move to withhold military aid to Ukraine at the same time that he pressed Kyiv to conduct investigations of Democrats and potential 2020 rival Joe Biden, the former U.S. vice president, and his son Hunter.

Democrats accuse the president of abusing his power to urge another country to interfere in the U.S. political process.

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Schiff on November 6 alleged that Trump “enlisted whole departments of government in the illicit aim of trying to get Ukraine to dig up dirt on a political opponent.”

Trump has denied any wrongdoing.

The officials due to appear next week have previously spoken during closed-door sessions with House lawmakers, and their opening statements and portions of their question-and-answer sessions have been released.

Taylor testified he was concerned that U.S. assistance was contingent on Kyiv publicly making a promise to investigate the Bidens.

Yovanovitch said Trump applied pressure on the State Department to remove her from her post based on “unfounded and false claims.”

Kent, a longtime U.S. diplomat who fought corruption in Ukraine and elsewhere, said he raised concerns about efforts by Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, to push Ukraine to investigate Biden and his son.