The House on Wednesday holds the first televised hearing in its impeachment inquiry about whether President Donald Trump abused his office – with a California congressman and a war veteran diplomat taking center stage – and the president's allies running interference.
The impeachment of President Trump, long predicted by his critics both before and during the Russia probe, is set to advance when the House Intelligence Committee gavels into order at 10 am in an ornate House committee room.
House Intelligence Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff of California will be overseeing the spectacle, after instructing his colleagues on what conduct he would and would not tolerate. His task is to maintain order amid withering attacks as he tries to keep the focus on the Ukraine affair that has overwhelmed congressional business this fall.
'The hearings will be conducted in a manner that ensures that all participants are treated fairly and with respect, mindful of the solemn and historic task before us,' Schiff wrote them Tuesday.
'I hope that we have a substantive and serious hearing and that Republicans will cooperate in treating this the way that Americans want the Congress to treat it – which is as a serious issue,' Texas Rep. Julian Castro, who will participate, told DailyMail.com.
On Monday, as the historic proceedings were about to begin, the nation was split 48 to 44 in favor of some form of impeachment, according to a FiveThirtyEight average.
The committee room in the Longworth House Office Building that will host the House Intelligence Committee's open impeachment hearings against President Trump on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC
Democrats are beginning with their most emphatic witness, Bill Taylor, the Charge d'Affairs running the U.S. embassy in Kiev – after the administration forced out Ambassador Marie Yavanovitch. Schiff is overseeing a hearing to gather information – but it is one that could lead to the recommendation of articles of impeachment that the Judiciary Committee could consider, with a potential House vote and Senate trial to follow.
Taylor, who was awarded a Bronze star serving in Vietnam, texted colleagues he thought it was 'crazy' to hold up millions in U.S. military aid to get Ukraine to conduct investigations of the Bidens and 2016.
Also up: bow tie-wearing diplomat George Kent, who testified to Congress Trump wanted to hear three words from Ukrainian President Zelensky: 'Investigations, Biden and Clinton.'
On Friday, Yovanovitch is set to testify Friday. The longtime diplomat was removed from her post after Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani and his allies spread information, swatted down by a series of witnesses, that she was working against Trump.
She testified behind closed doors Giuliani's associates 'may well have believed that their personal financial ambitions were stymied by our anti-corruption policy in Ukraine.'
Ambassador William Taylor is escorted by U.S. Capitol Police as he arrives to testify before House committees as part of the Democrats' impeachment investigation of President Donald Trump, at the Capitol in Washington
George Kent, deputy assistant secretary of state for Europe and Eurasian Affairs, arrives to testify at a closed-door deposition as part of the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives impeachment inquiry into U.S. President Donald Trump on Capitol Hill
House Chairman Adam Schiff, Democrat of California will make an opening statement and begin questioning of the witnesses
President Trump has been his own chief defender, calling the inquiry 'A total Impeachment Scam by the Do Nothing Democrats!' He said his July 25 call where he asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for 'a favor though' was a 'perfect call.' His mantra to critics has been to 'read the transcript!' of the call.
At the hearing, Republicans are led by California Rep. Devin Nunes, who as former Intelligence chairman repeatedly attacked the Mueller probe and coordinated with the White House.
GOP leaders just days ago installed Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio on the committee, so he can put his prosecutorial skills to use on Trump's behalf.
Members of the Intelligence, Foreign Relations, and Oversight Committees will be present.
Representative Devin Nunes (R-CA) will control a block of time for Republican questioning
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX) speak to the media at the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, USA, 28 October 2019. Republicans added Jordan to the Intelligence panel days ago
Under rules passed by the House and imposed by Schiff, committee counsel will be able to lead questioning. As the Judiciary Committee did in May when former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski testified, committee counsel will grill witnesses for an extended block.
But Schiff and Nunes will get 90 minute blocks of time. Schiff said he would yield a significant amount to Democratic superlawyer Daniel Goldman, who conducted many of the closed-door interviews for the committee. Goldman spent years as a federal prosecutor in the Southern District of New York going after mobsters.
For Republicans, Steve Castor will be handling questioning. He is an experienced congressional attorney, who spent 14 years advising the House Oversight Committee and handled a series of