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House Democrats announced that the impeachment inquiry is moving to a new phase next week — public hearings. Starting Nov. 13, the public will be able to hear directly from witnesses who have already been interviewed behind closed doors, according to Politico.
The announcement comes as transcripts from the closed-door depositions are being released providing more detail about the perspectives or current and former officials about whether President Donald Trump improperly withheld aid to Ukraine in an attempt to pressure Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky into investigating, or announcing an intention to investigate, Joe Biden and son Hunter Biden.
Who is set to testify? The first public hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 13. Top Ukraine diplomat William Taylor and deputy assistant secretary of state George Kent will testify. On Nov. 15, former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch will testify.
Who is running this show? These hearings will take place before the House Intelligence Committee, which is chaired by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.). Republicans on the committee will be allowed to participate in the hearings, although they will have less control over the nature of the proceedings as the minority party.
Why are they testifying publicly if we know what they’ll say? For the Democrats, the impeachment inquiry is less about fact-finding than it is about presenting the existing information in a way that is persuasive to voters and, as a result, representatives who will likely be called eventually to vote on articles of impeachment.
Public hearings are more productive toward that goal than closed-door hearings and transcripts, which are unlikely to be read by most people in the general public. Schiff confirmed this motive.
“Those open hearings will be an opportunity for the American people to evaluate the witnesses for themselves, to make their own determinations about the credibility of the witnesses, but also to learn first-hand about the facts of the president’s misconduct,” Schiff said, according to Politico.
Although the Democrats had enough votes to formalize the impeachment inquiry, it is less clear whether or not they have the votes to pass articles of impeachment with the current available information. Two Democrats from conservative districts even opposed the impeachment inquiry itself.