foreign-policy

Democrats target Trump defenses in first impeachment hearing
Two articulate and polished career diplomats lend gravitas to much-anticipated public event

House Intelligence Chairman Adam B. Schiff, joined by other House Democrats, speaks to reporters Wednesday's hearing. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

House Democrats used the first day of impeachment hearings to take aim at the various defenses President Donald Trump and his congressional allies have raised during the inquiry into his Ukraine dealings — a strategy that allows them to advance their case alongside a drumbeat of witness testimony over the next two weeks.

The House Intelligence Committee started that push Wednesday with two articulate and polished veteran diplomats, whose deep knowledge of Ukraine turned into succinct explanations of the unusual circumstances surrounding how the Trump administration handled almost $400 million in military aid to the country.

Trump, White House aides show some restraint on Day One of public impeachment hearings
‘I haven’t watched,’ president claims after spokeswoman called televised session ‘boring’

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Donald Trump hold a joint press conference following their meeting at the White House on Wednesday. Trump also weighed in on Wednesday’s impeachment hearing. (Halil Sagirkaya/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

ANALYSIS — For once, the often-brash and always-combative Trump White House played it safe.

On day one of House Democrats’ public impeachment hearings, President Donald Trump and his top aides opted against firing back to sometimes-damning testimony by two administration witnesses and allegations of corrupt intent from Intelligence Committee Democrats.

GOP relies on familiar defenses as impeachment hearings open
Jordan presses witnesses on Ukraine aid being released without investigation sought

Ranking member Devin Nunes, R-Calif., Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and minority counsel Stephen Castor, confer during the House Intelligence Committee hearing on the impeachment inquiry of President Trump. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Republicans reached for oft-cited complaints about the impeachment process Wednesday to counter arguments from Democrats and detailed statements from two career diplomats at the start of what will likely be several weeks of contentious hearings into President Donald Trump's dealings with Ukraine.

It wasn’t until early afternoon, when a temporary member added to the House Intelligence Committee roster to bolster questioning during the televised proceedings, provided the most forceful defense of Trump in a hearing that otherwise shed little new light — for the viewing public, at least — on the weeks-long inquiry.

White House says Trump ‘too busy’ to watch ‘boring’ impeachment hearing
President cared more about Biden probe than corruption in Ukraine, diplomat testifies

President Donald Trump speaks at an event at the White House earlier this year. He said Wednesday he is not watching the first public impeachment hearing. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images file photo)

President Donald Trump — an avid cable news consumer — contended Wednesday he is “too busy” to watch the first public impeachment hearing, but he dismissed it as a made-for-television “hoax.”

The White House-Republican strategy for providing a counter message to testimony from acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs George Kent about two quid-pro-quos with Ukraine’s new president orchestrated by Trump began to unfold in the hearing’s first two hours.

Impeachment news roundup: Nov. 13
Two career diplomats first to offer public testimony, Trump tweets counteroffensive

William Taylor, the senior U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, and George Kent, deputy assistant secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs, are sworn in at the House Intelligence Committee hearing. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Two career diplomats who told congressional investigators behind closed doors of their concerns over President Donald Trump’s withholding of military aid to Ukraine and the “irregular channel” in dealing with the country conducted by Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani testified today in the first public hearings in the House’s impeachment investigation.

William Taylor, the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, told investigators in a closed-door deposition in October that Trump used a stalled $400 million aid package to leverage Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and the involvement of his son Hunter Biden in a Ukrainian energy company. And George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, told the committees conducting the investigation in his closed-door deposition that it was his understanding that Trump wanted the Ukrainians to investigate the Bidens and whether the country tried to influence the 2016 election.

Hill staffers in both parties overwhelmingly believe Trump headed for impeachment
But both sides also agree the Senate won't remove the president from office

Speaker Nancy Pelosi talks during a news conference just before the House vote on a resolution to formalize the impeachment investigation of President Donald Trump on Capitol Hill on Oct. 31. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

If Donald Trump’s presidency feels like a roller-coaster ride, with each hair-raising turn of events quickly giving way to a new one — and opinions about him constantly in motion — the results of CQ Roll Call’s Capitol Insiders Survey in 2019 buttress that view.

Few congressional staffers thought, at the beginning of the year, that Trump was headed for impeachment. But the results of CQ Roll Call’s October poll are unambiguous: Staffers in both parties overwhelmingly believe Trump will become the third president in U.S. history to be impeached.

Turkish NBA star Enes Kanter to visit Capitol Hill ahead of Erdogan visit
Boston Celtics center has called the Turkish leader the 'Hitler of our century'

NBA center Enes Kanter meets with Rep. Kathleen Rice, D-N.Y. (courtesy of @EnesKanter / Twitter)

As President Donald Trump prepares to receive Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for a Wednesday state visit at the White House, NBA player Enes Kanter, an outspoken critic of Erdogan, is scheduled to appear on Capitol Hill.

The Boston Celtics center plans to join Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton in the Capitol Visitor Center for a panel discussion Tuesday afternoon on protecting America’s Syrian Kurdish allies.

Trump to host Turkey’s Erdogan same day public impeachment hearings start
Bipartisan calls to cancel visit ignored, as experts say Washington still needs Ankara

President Donald Trump welcomes President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey at the White House in 2017. The Turkish leader makes a controversial return Wednesday. (Alex Wong/Getty Images file photo)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will be feted Wednesday at the White House despite his attacks on a longtime U.S. ally, his purchase of military equipment from Russia and calls from lawmakers in both parties to punish him.

President Donald Trump and top aides have ignored bipartisan calls to cancel Erdogan’s visit, which is expected to include a joint press conference on the same day public hearings in the House impeachment inquiry begin.

Secret ’Stache

Impeachment news roundup: Nov. 11
Some in GOP struggle with how — or whether — to defend Trump as Democrats ready to go public with investigation

Then-White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, left, and then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, third from left, flank presidential adviser Jared Kushner as President Donald Trump speaks during a working lunch with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy at the White House in September 2017. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images file photo)

The president had first floated the possibility of releasing the transcript late last week.

Trump’s announcement comes as Republicans in Congress continue grappling with how — or whether — they are defending Trump as House Democrats move to the public phase of their impeachment inquiry this week.