UPDATED 12:10 PM PT — Wednesday, November 13, 2019
All eyes were on Capitol Hill Wednesday morning as the first public hearings in the Democrat impeachment inquiry kicked off with testimony from William Taylor and George Kent.
In his opening statement, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Kent took aim at Rudy Giuliani by saying he’s “infecting U.S. relations with Ukraine.” Kent also told the House Intelligence Committee that he raised concern over reports of corruption at Ukrainian gas company Burisma, but insisted he saw no evidence Joe Biden sought to block an investigation into the company. He also accused Giuliani and his two associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, of orchestrating a political coup against former Ukraine ambassador.
Giuliani published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal ahead of the hearings, where he slammed House Democrats for their “unprecedented impeachment investigation” and reemphasized the president’s dealings with Ukraine were completely innocent.
“They led to the ouster of Ambassador Yovanovitch and hampered U.S. efforts to establish rapport with the new Zelenskyy administration in Ukraine,” claimed Kent. “In mid-August it became clear to me that Giuliani’s efforts to gin up politically-motivated investigations were now infecting U.S. engagement with Ukraine, leveraging (Ukrainian) President Zelensky’s desire for a White House meeting.”
Meanwhile, former ambassador Yovanovitch is set for her public testimony before the House panel this coming Friday.
During his opening statement, William Taylor claimed — in his belief — President Trump cared more about the Biden probe than U.S. policies with Ukraine. The acting ambassador to Ukraine told lawmakers that one of his aides told him about a call he overheard between the president and UN ambassador Gordon Sonland in which he asked about investigations.
“In the presence of my staff at a restaurant, Ambassador Sondland called President Trump and told him of his meetings in Kiev,” he stated. “The member of my staff could hear President Trump on the phone asking Ambassador Sondland about the investigations…Ambassador Sondland told President Trump the Ukrainians were ready to move forward.”
Taylor went on to say he was not aware of this information during his October 22nd deposition and included it in Wednesday’s testimony for “completeness.”