The public impeachment inquiry hearings: Day One

Shane Harris explains what we learned on the first day of the impeachment inquiry’s public phase. Shibani Mahtani on a flashpoint in Hong Kong.

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Post Reports is the daily podcast from The Washington Post. Unparalleled reporting. Expert insight. Clear analysis. Everything you’ve come to expect from the newsroom of The Post — for your ears.

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Public testimony links Trump more directly to Ukraine pressure

The House held its first public impeachment hearings on President Trump on Wednesday, starting with testimony from the acting ambassador to Ukraine, William B. Taylor Jr., and George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of state responsible for Ukraine.

During the hearing, Taylor told lawmakers of Trump’s personal involvement in the Ukraine pressure campaign that touched off the impeachment inquiry. In a transcript of his closed-door testimony, Taylor described a “Washington snake pit” willing to cut off aid to Ukraine as it battled Russian-backed separatists. 

Kent told the House panel that there was no basis for Trump’s assertion that Joe Biden, while vice president, had stopped an investigation into a Ukrainian gas company where his son Hunter served on the board of directors. 

At Kent’s earlier closed-door deposition, he told impeachment investigators that the White House directed former Ukraine envoy Kurt Volker, U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland and Energy Secretary Rick Perry to direct Ukraine policy, sidelining other officials. 

“I thought it was interesting how both witnesses tried to frame this question around aid to Ukraine, in terms of the strategic interests of the United States and the historical significance of it,” intelligence reporter Shane Harris says. “It might be the first time the people have really heard from diplomats who serve there on the frontlines, why it is that we’re invested in Ukraine, why we’re investing in Ukraine.” 

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Violence flares in Hong Kong 

Pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong show no sign of abating, as tensions between demonstrators and the police grew more violent after the first protest-related death on Friday. 

What began in June as demonstrations against a bill that would allow extradition to mainland China has grown in scope, Hong Kong correspondent Shibani Mahtani says.

“They’ve grown in size and are essentially fundamentally driven by the idea that Hong Kong should be self-governing,” Mahtani says. “That there should be direct elections and that there should not be Beijing interference in Hong Kong society and politics.”

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About Post Reports

Post Reports is the daily podcast from The Washington Post. Unparalleled reporting. Expert insight. Clear analysis. Everything you’ve come to expect from the newsroom of The Post — for your ears.

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