After weeks of closed-door testimony, public impeachment hearings begin this week for all Americans to see live on television.
The impeachment investigation against President Donald Trump has now entered a critical phase.
Americans will now get to see for themselves what appears to be a convincing narrative of presidential misconduct by Trump.
The hearings should effectively counter Trump and some Republican lawmakers’ claims of a cover-up and lack of transparency in the inquiry. Those claims were never valid. Democrats were right to start the process with closed-door depositions. The process could be compared to the process of a secret grand jury preparing for an indictment.
Americans will hear first from William Taylor, the top diplomat in Ukraine, who has said in private his understanding that there was a blatant quid pro quo with Trump holding up military aid to a U.S. ally facing threats from its powerful neighbor Russia.
At the heart of the impeachment inquiry is the allegation that U.S. aid was held hostage until Ukraine agreed to investigate Trump’s political foe, Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden.
The testimony of Taylor, a career envoy and war veteran with 50 years of service to the U.S., is expected to be critical. Taylor has told investigators about an “irregular channel” that the president’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, set up for Ukraine diplomacy, and how the White House was holding up the military aid, according to a transcript of his closed-door interview released last week.
“That was my clear understanding, security assistance money would not come until the president committed to pursue the investigation,” Taylor said.
He was asked if he was aware that “quid pro quo” meant “this for that.”
“I am,” he replied.
The public will hear from former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, whom Trump fired after what she and others say was a smear campaign against her, and career State Department official George Kent. Taylor and Kent will appear Wednesday, Yovanovitch on Friday.
All three of those scheduled to appear in public hearings this week have already testified behind closed doors, and investigators in recent days started releasing hundreds of pages of transcripts from their interviews.
Undoubtedly all three should expect attacks on their character by diehard Trump loyalists attempting to distract the public from their testimony. High political drama is certain in this week’s televised hearings.
Americans should ignore the distractions and distortions and evaluate the evidence on whether Trump abused his presidential powers.