What New Yorkers Should Know Before the Impeachment Hearings

Top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine William Taylor testifies before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington on Wednesday during the first public impeachment hearing of President Trump

Top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine William Taylor testifies before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington on Wednesday during the first public impeachment hearing of President Trump

All have already testified in closed-door depositions, and their testimonies have been made public.

Trump enters the crucible of the public hearings largely alone - by his own design.

Two witnesses will testify: U.S. diplomat Bill Taylor and State Department official George Kent. Taylor now serves as the Chargé D'affaires for the U.S. State Department in Ukraine.

Taylor is the acting US ambassador to Ukraine, a role known as the chargé d'affaires. He soon learned it was being run by Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, and others from the administration.

Taylor said that on July 26 - one day after Trump's phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that prompted a whistleblower complaint that alleged Trump solicited "interference" from a foreign country to help his 2020 presidential campaign - Trump spoke by phone with Gordon Sondland, the United States ambassador to the European Union, about "the investigations".

Gordon Sondland, the U.S. Ambassador to the European Union, testified to lawmakers that the president "directed" Giuliani's participation in efforts to get Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden. He's a senior State Department official with a focus on Ukraine. He has been in the Foreign Service since 1992. According to closed-session testimony, Kent told lawmakers he was cut out of decisions about Ukraine. Many of those deposed - and whom the public will hear from in the coming weeks - are life-long, highly trained national security officials who told Congress that Trump's attempt to extort Ukraine for personal gain was wrong and that many of them tried to stop it and reported the wrongdoing. The testimony released thus far paints a damning picture of Trump's lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, leading efforts to subvert US policy to serve Trump's personal interests, not the national interest.

Some on the Trump team have also pushed an unproven theory that it was the Ukraine that hacked the Democratic National Committee's email servers in the 2016 election and made it look like Russian Federation.

And while so much of the recent public debate has swirled around the question of a quid pro quo, the American people must not let this debate distract them.

Lawmakers have not outlined a timeline for the impeachment inquiry, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said she wants to move through it "expeditiously", the AP reports. He's a former federal prosecutor with the Southern District of NY, and he led questioning for the Democrats during depositions.

The president's supporters, meanwhile, have been working to discredit the proceedings by finding fault with the way the process has played out and the cast of witnesses who have come forward to testify. Along with House Intelligence, the House Oversight Committee is also part of the investigation.

The House, which is controlled by Democrats, is expected to vote by Christmas. Orlando Rep. Val Demings is also on the committee.

Releasing a transcript of the first call could be an attempt by the White House to distract from the congressional hearings, though the impeachment inquiry has moved well beyond the phone calls into broader attempts by the president and his allies to prod Ukraine to investigate Democrats by using USA military aid as leverage.

New York's congressional delegation plays a key role in all of this, beginning with Rep.

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