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First Trump impeachment hearings set for next week

WASHINGTON (AA): The U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee will hold its first open hearings as part of an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump’s dealings with Ukraine next week, its chairman said Wednesday.

William Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat to Ukraine, and George Kent, a top State Department official, will testify on Wednesday, said Adam Schiff on Twitter.

Marie Yovanovitch, who served as former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine until May when she was dismissed, will testify Friday.

The announcement came after the House voted largely along party lines Thursday to formalize its impeachment investigation, taking one of the most significant steps in the process to date.

The 232-196 vote saw two Democrats join ranks with all of the chamber’s 194 Republicans in opposing the resolution.

“Those open hearings will be an opportunity for the American people to evaluate the witnesses for themselves to make their own determinations … but also to learn first-hand about the facts of the President’s misconduct,” Schriff told reporters on Capitol Hill.

House Democrats launched an impeachment inquiry against Trump on Sept. 24 following claims by a whistle-blower that the president sought to pressure Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 presidential elections.

In a July 25 telephone call, Trump repeatedly pressed Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch a probe into former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, and his son, Hunter, a businessman, over unsubstantiated corruption allegations.

The elder Biden is a leading candidate in the race for the Democratic nomination to challenge Trump for the presidency in 2020.

Trump, a Republican, has accused Democrats of time-wasting and says the House inquiry amounts to a “lynching,” maintaining he did nothing wrong.

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