Two State Department officials who expressed concerns about President Donald Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate a potential political opponent are testifying before a House committee Wednesday morning.
William Taylor, chargé d'affaires for Ukraine, and George Kent, deputy assistant secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs, will be answering questions before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in the first public hearing in the impeachment inquiry into Trump’s dealings with Ukraine.
Watch the live stream for Wednesday’s hearings here:
Subpoena the whistleblower
3:50 p.m. Nov. 13, 2019: A resolution to subpoena the whistleblower to testify was made, but defeated by the Democrats on the committee.
The hearing has ended
3:35 p.m. ET Nov. 13, 2019: The hearing is over, but the representatives will be coming back to consider a resolution.
Closing statements have started
3:27 p.m. ET Nov. 13, 2019: Closing statements are being given by Schiff and Nunes.
Welch offers an invitation
3 p.m. ET Nov. 13, 2019: Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vermont, has a suggestion for a witness in the hearings.
2:45 p.m. ET Nov. 13, 2019: Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas, is making the point that Ukraine received support from the Trump administration in 2017 and 2018.
2:30 p.m. ET Nov. 13, 2019: Rep. Eric Swalwell asks Kent and Taylor if they are "never Trumpers," people who will do anything to stop Trump from being reelected. Both said no.
‘Welcome to year four’
2:15 p.m. ET Nov. 13, 2019: Republican representative Chris Stewart begins his questioning by welcoming Americans to “year four of the impeachment of President Trump.”
Turner: It’s hearsay
2:01 p.m. ET Nov. 13, 2019: Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, in a combative confrontation, says Kent and Taylor’s testimony is the result of hearsay. Turner's questioning turned testy.
“So you both know that this impeachment inquiry is about the United States, don’t you — the man that neither one of you have had any contact with?” Turner asked.
"Isn’t it true, possible, that the things that you heard were not true?” Turner asked Taylor.
Taylor responded, “I’m here to tell you what I know, I’m not going to tell you anything that I don’t know.”
“But since you learned it from others, you could be wrong?” Turner continued. “They could be wrong, or they could be mistaken, or they could have heard it incorrectly, right?”
“People make mistakes, Taylor said.
But was it impeachable?
1:50 p.m. ET Nov. 14, 2019: John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, asked Taylor and Kent whether they believed Trump had done anything impeachable.
“I’m not here to do anything having to do with, to decide about impeachment,” Taylor said. “That is not what either of us are here to do. This is your job.”
Is anyone defending Trump?
1:44 p.m. ET Nov. 14, 2019: Jim Himes, D-Connecticut, said, "One of the things I find startling about these proceedings is that, faced with very serious allegations of presidential misconduct, my colleagues on the other side of the aisle don't engage or defend that conduct."
Like a ‘church prayer chain’
1:40 p.m. ET Nov. 13, 2019: Jordan tries to show Taylor’s argument of quid pro quo relied on secondhand information alone. Taylor pushes back some, but acknowledges he did not listen to Trump’s Ukraine call or discuss any investigations into the Bidens with Zelensky. Jordan said of the passing the alleged information among several people, “I’ve seen church prayer chains that are easier to follow. My understanding is only coming from people I talked to.”
Jim Jordan is asking questions
1:37 p.m. ET Nov. 13, 2019: Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, who was moved to the committee for this hearing, is questioning Taylor and Kent.
Why weren’t they on the call?
1:20 p.m. ET Nov. 13, 2019: Castor asks both Kent and Taylor if either were on the July 25 phone call between Trump and Zelensky. Neither were. Castor asked why they weren't involved. Kent explains the process which he says is generally handled by the National Security Council. Castor asked Kent if Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman reached out to him prior to the call. Kent said he was notified the day before the call that would be taking place.
"And to the extent I had any role, it was to reach out to the embassy, give them the heads-up and ask them to ensure that the secure communications link in the office of the Ukraine was functional so the call could be patched through to the White House situation room," Kent said.
What was Hunter Biden doing there?
1:12 p.m.ET Nov. 13, 2019: Republican counsel Castor asks Kent about Hunter Biden. He asks if Hunter Biden has a specific talent for business or speaks Ukrainian. He asks if either one knows if Hunter Biden moved to Ukraine since he was getting $50,000 a month from the Ukrainian energy company Barisma.
‘Facts not in evidence’
12:50 p.m. ET Nov. 13, 2019: Schiff stops the questioning to warn Taylor that he does not have to answer a question that “assumes facts not in evidence” or hearsay. Republicans immediately go after Schiff for suggesting that the hearing be conducted as a criminal trial with respect to what is asked and answered, then there will be ample objections to questions Democrats ask in the coming hours if that is the case.
"I just want to be clear, ambassador, if you're able to verify the things that counsel has asked you in the prerequisite of the question, that's fine. Otherwise, in questions from the majority or the minority that assumes facts not in evidence before you, you should be cautioned about that," Schiff said.
Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, jumped in.
"Chairman, I sat here through the first 45 minutes and literally had an objection to almost the foundation of every question that Mr. Goldman (Democratic counsel Daniel Goldman) asked regarding facts not in evidence, leading," he said.
12:45 p.m. ET Nov. 13, 2019: The hearing has resumed with Republican Rep. Devon Nunes asking questions.
A brief recess
12:20 p.m. ET Nov. 13, 2019: The hearing is in recess for five minutes.
12:14 p.m. ET Nov. 13, 2019: Goldman asks Kent: "To your knowledge, is there any factual basis to support the allegation that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election?" Kent answers, "To my knowledge, there is no factual basis, no," Kent said.
Schiff, Daniel Goldman question Kent and Taylor
11:35 a.m. ET Nov. 13, 2019: Schiff asks Taylor about the staffer who overheard Trump asking about “investigations” in Ukraine. He asks if the staffer overheard the conversation between Sondland and Trump. Taylor said he did overhear a phone conversation.
Goldman asks Taylor if he had ever seen such a situation as holding up military aid for a political favor. Taylor said no he had not.
‘In a public box’
11:20 a.m. ET Nov. 13, 2019: In his opening statement, Taylor said Gordon Sondland “told me that he now recognized that he had made a mistake by earlier telling Ukrainian officials that only a White House meeting with President Zelensky was dependent on a public announcement of investigations—in fact, Ambassador Sondland said, ‘everything’ was dependent on such an announcement, including security assistance.”
Taylor went on to say “He (Sondland) said that President Trump wanted President Zelensky ‘in a public box’ by making a public statement about ordering such investigations” into the Bidens.
Taylor: Staffer overheard Trump asking about ‘investigations’
11:10 a.m. ET Nov. 13, 2019: According to Taylor’s prepared remarks, one of his staffers was the one who overheard a phone call between Trump and US ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland. He said the staffer heard that the president asked about the “investigations.”
Sondland told the staffer, Taylor said, that Trump cared more about an investigation into Joe and Hunter Biden than other US-Ukrainian policies. Taylor said he was not aware of the conversation when he first testified before the committee. He said he wanted to clarify that in his opening statement.
Taylor gives his opening statement
10:55 a.m. ET: Taylor testifies in his opening statement that withholding any help to Ukraine is a threat to U.S. security. He says, “I said on September 9 in a message to Ambassador Gordon Sondland that withholding security assistance in exchange for help with a domestic political campaign in the United States would be crazy I believed that then, and I still believe that.”
Kent raised concerns about Hunter Biden
10:52 a.m. ET Nov. 13, 2019: Kent said he raised concerns in 2015 about the appearance of a conflict of interest in Hunter Biden’s work for Burisma, the Ukrainian energy company. “In February 2015, I raised my concern that Hunter Biden’s status as board member could create the perception of a conflict of interest,” Kent said. “Let me be clear; however, I did not witness any efforts by any U.S. official to shield Burisma from scrutiny.”
No one should ask another country to investigate US issues
10:51 a.m. ET Nov. 13, 2019: Kent slams the president for asking for help in investigation Biden and his son.
“U.S. efforts to counter corruption in Ukraine focus on building institutional capacity so that the Ukrainian government has the ability to go after corruption and effectively investigate, prosecute, and judge alleged criminal activities using appropriate institutional mechanisms -- that is -- to create and follow the rule of law. That means if there is any criminal nexus for activity in the United States, then U.S. law enforcement should pursue that case. If we think there has been some criminal act overseas that violates U.S. law, we have the institutional mechanisms to address that. It could be through the Justice Department and FBI agents assigned oversees or through treaty mechanisms, such as the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty. As a general principle, I do not believe the United States should ask other countries to engage in selective, politically associated investigations or prosecutions against opponents of those in power because such selective actions undermine the rule of law regardless of the country.”
Kent’s opening statement
10:49 a.m. ET Nov. 13, 2019: Kent says in his opening statement that Ukraine is vital to U.S. security. “Support of Ukraine’s success also fits squarely into our strategy for central and Eastern Europe since the fall of the Wall 30 years ago this past week. A Europe truly whole, free, and at peace -- our strategic aim for the entirety of my foreign service career -- is not possible without a Ukraine whole, free, and at peace, including Crimea and Donbas, territories currently occupied by Russia.”
Kent, Taylor sworn in
10:43 a.m. ET Nov. 13, 2019: Taylor and Kent are sworn in after Republicans ask when Schiff will give them an answer about witnesses they wish to call and about subpoenaing the whistleblower for a private hearing.
Kent is giving his opening statement.
10:34 a.m. ET Nov. 13, 2019: Nunes says three questions need to be answered about the impeachment inquiry:
- Who did the whistleblower have contact with
- What is the full extent of Ukraine meddling against Trump in the 2016 election
- What did Hunter Biden do in Ukraine
Nunes gives his opening statement
10:30 a.m. ET Nov. 13, 2019: Rep. Devon Nunes, the ranking member of the committee, gives his opening statement calling the hearing a “carefully orchestrated media smear campaign. He goes on to say Democrats have engaged in closed-door hearings in “a cult-like atmosphere in the basement of the nation’s Capitol, then said they staged the release of closed-door testimony.
The impeachment inquiry is a “horrifically one-sided process.”
“Notably,” Nunes said, “they are trying to impeach the president for inquiring about Hunter Biden’s activities, yet they will not honor the GOP’s request to have him appear.”
Schiff says impeach is the only avenue
10:19 a.m. ET Nov. 13, 2019: Schiff continues to lay out what he says happened between Trump and officials in Ukraine and how Trump’s actions – asking for an investigation into Biden and his son in exchange for military aid to Ukraine – is a compelling argument to impeach him.
Schiff is giving his opening statement
10:11 a.m. ET Nov. 13, 2019: Rep. Adam Schiff, chairman of the Intelligence Committee, is giving his opening statement. He says Rudy Giuliani, Trump's personal attorney, helped to set up a backchannel to advance "the president's personal and professional" interests. He says the White House, lead by Mick Mulvaney and aided by Giuliani, ran a scheme to benefit the president by getting damaging information on former Vice President Joe Biden's son Hunter.
Kent, Taylor in the room; hearing starts
10:05 a.m. ET Nov. 13, 2019: Kent and Taylor are seated and Schiff is opening the hearing.
People are filing into the hearing room
10 a.m. ET Nov. 13, 2019: The hearing was set to begin at 10 a.m. Representatives, the press and spectators are getting to their seats now.
Who is Stephen Castor?
9:55 a.m. ET Nov. 13, 2019: Stephen Castor is the Republican staff member who will be questioning Taylor and Kent. He has been an investigator in GOP inquiries into Operation Fast and Furious, the terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya and the government’s response to Hurricane Katrina.
Who is Daniel Goldman?
9:53 a.m. ET Nov. 13, 2019: The man who will ask questions for the Democrats was an assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York. He prosecuted mobsters and insider traders.
More hearings announced
9:33 a.m. ET Nov. 13, 2019: House Democrats have announced that eight witnesses will testify over three days next week. On Tuesday, Alexander Vindman; Kurt Volker; Jennifer Williams, a special adviser to Vice President Mike Pence on Europe and Russia; and Tim Morrison, a former White House national security aide will testify. On Nov. 20 Gordon Sondland; Laura Cooper, the Pentagon official who oversees Ukraine policy; and David Hale, the State Department’s third-ranking official, will appear before the Intelligence Committee. On Nov. 21, Fiona Hill, who was a White House Russia adviser, will testify.
Kent arrives at the Capitol
9:24 a.m. ET Nov. 13, 2019: George Kent, wearing a bow tie, has arrived at the Capitol. Both he and Taylor received subpoenas to testify last night, according to reports.
Taylor arrives at the Capitol
9:15 a.m. ET Nov. 13, 2019: William Taylor has arrived at the Capitol for the hearing.
9:13 a.m. ET Nov. 13, 2019: Of the eight named witnesses the Republicans have asked to be called to testify in public hearings, only three -- Kurt Volker, David Hale and Tim Morrison -- have been okayed by Schiff. Schiff did not agree to let Hunter Biden, Joe Biden's son, testify.
Will Trump be watching?
8:50 a.m. ET Nov. 13, 2019: The first televised hearing in the impeachment investigation of Trump’s dealings with Ukraine will begin at 10 a.m. with the questioning of Taylor and Kent. Trump on Tuesday said the impeachment inquiry efforts “are going nowhere” when he spoke at an event in New York City Tuesday night. The White House has said the president may watch some of the hearings Wednesday.
Live updates are beginning
8:30 a.m. ET Nov. 13, 2019: Good morning! Welcome to live updates of the first public hearings in the impeachment inquiry. We will be following all the testimony from today’s proceedings.
Hearing begins at 10 a.m.
6:33 a.m. ET Nov. 13, 2019: The hearing is set to begin at 10 a.m. ET. Live updates will begin at 8:30 a.m. ET.
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