Taylor, Kent, Yovanovitch Will Be First Public Impeachment Testimonies Next Week

John Roberts in a file

After the May 23 Oval Office meeting, Kurt Volker, then-special envoy to Ukraine, reached out to Mr Giuliani, attempting to court his support for USA foreign policy goals, and also put him in touch with a top Ukrainian official.

The transcripts point to the central role of the President's personal lawyer, Rudy Guiliani, in orchestrating a back-channel for U.S. -Ukraine diplomatic relations.

On Tuesday, it was revealed that Sondland had revised his previous testimony to say that he told top Ukrainian official that aid will likely not resume until it issues a statement on corruption.

"And, you know, so, you know, I mean, obviously, that was advice. And I quit", should that hypothetical scenario unfold, he said.

But Sondland suddenly remembered something-he changed his original testimony to reflect that he supposed that it was possible that military aid has been withheld to pressure Ukraine making a public statement asked by the Trump administration, adding that he had been in touch with a Ukrainian official last month.

"I said that resumption of the USA aid would likely not occur until Ukraine provided the public anticorruption statement that we had been discussing for many weeks", Sondland said Tuesday. "And the answer was, don't worry about it", Taylor said. The New York lawmaker hammered Taylor for relying on third-hand information about the state of mind of an elected official to whom he had never spoken.

Taylor said he understood the reason for investigating Burisma was to cast Biden, the former US vice president, "in a bad light", according to the latest transcript.

The first open impeachment hearings into US President Donald Trump will begin next week, the congressman leading the probe said Wednesday, as the investigation heads into a highly anticipated public phase. A full transcript of the evidence she gave to the House committees leading the impeachment inquiry against Trump, has also been released. In fact, Ambassador Sondland said everything was dependent on such an announcement, including security assistance.

Sondland testified that it would be "improper" for Giuliani to push the Ukrainians to investigate Biden or get involved in the 2020 election. Maloney asked of Taylor's reference to Burisma being beneficial to a campaign.

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"It had still not occurred to me that the hold on security assistance could be related to the investigations", Taylor said. "He did not want to do that".

Taylor, the charge d'affaires to Ukraine, said Trump wanted his counterpart to publicly announce an investigation into Democrats and the Ukrainian gas company Burisma, which was linked to Biden's son, prior to agreeing to a White House visit for Zelenskiy and before Washington would release the military assistance.

The interim ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent will testify on November 13.

The State Department's third-ranking official is expected to tell House impeachment investigators Wednesday that political considerations were behind the agency's refusal to deliver a robust defense of the former US ambassador to Ukraine.

Yovanovitch's initial testimony was released this week.

Despite Trump's daily denials, Schiff said Wednesday that the witnesses will show that "the most important facts are largely not contested" in the inquiry. That claim of a quid pro quo initially contradicted Sondland's testimony, but this week, Sondland said he misremembered events, and confirmed the accuracy of Taylor's account. In recent days, several GOP senators said that such behavior, however problematic, doesn't rise to the level of a crime or isn't an impeachable offense.

Citing people familiar with the matter, the paper reported that Trump's request came sometime around the White House's September 25 release of a transcript of the call.

"What I can tell you about the Trump policy toward the Ukraine, it was incoherent, it depends on who you talk to", Graham told reporters.

It painted a damning picture of Trump offering a quid pro quo.

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