The House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday held the first televised hearing of its impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. Democrats are investigating his attempt to withhold U.S. military aid to Ukraine until the country’s President Volodymyr Zelensky agreed to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Bill Taylor, the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, and George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary for Europe and Eurasian affairs, were the first two witnesses to publicly testify in the investigation, after they separately testified privately last month.
Throughout the hearing, Democrats tried to get the witnesses to admit that Trump’s behavior constituted an impeachable offense, while Republicans attempted to discredit the diplomats. Here are seven takeaways from Wednesday’s hearing with Taylor and Kent.
1. Bill Taylor’s Aide Was Told That Trump Cares More About Investigating Joe Biden Than About Ukraine
Taylor revealed new information about Trump’s dealings with Ukraine at Wednesday’s hearing that he had not known about at the time of his private testimony. The ambassador said that last week, an aide told him about a conversation he had with Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union who has become one of the most relevant characters in the investigation.
Taylor said that his aide was at a restaurant with Sondland on July 26 — the day after Trump’s call with Zelensky that prompted the whistleblower to file a complaint — when Sondland called Trump, who the aide apparently overheard ask the EU ambassador about “the investigations.” Sondland reportedly told Trump the Ukrainians were ready to move forward, according to Taylor.
“Following the call with President Trump, the member of my staff asked Ambassador Sondland what President Trump thought about Ukraine,” Taylor said in his opening remarks. “Ambassador Sondland responded that President Trump...