Today is the first day in what could be an explosive series of public impeachment hearings by the House Intelligence Committee, and 8th District Democrat Elissa Slotkin says she will honor her promise not to make a decision on impeachment until she has heard all of the facts.
The hearings center on the Trump administration’s alleged withholding of millions of dollars in sophisticated military hardware from Ukraine until the president of that country agreed to investigate the president’s biggest rival at the time, former vice president Joe Biden and his son. In a recent series of closed hearings, virtually every witness corroborated the accounts of the others, who all asserted that there was an attempt by the administration to tie the release of the funds to agreeing to investigate the Bidens, called in legal terms a “quid pro quo”, which violates the Constitution.
Congresswoman Slotkin says that having closed hearings was necessary so those who testified couldn’t compare notes with others scheduled to appear and change their story accordingly. Conversely, Slotkin tells WHMI, the public portion of the hearings is equally necessary, calling them a “critical part of that (process)”, adding “I’m going to do what I was trained to do in the CIA, which is to wait for the full body of evidence to come forward in some sort of final report. I’m going to read every page of it. I’m going to consider it and then I’m going be making an objective decision.”
Slotkin says that before the hearings even started she urged her Democratic colleagues to have a balance of the time allotted for questions from both sides of the aisle, to ensure the “accountability and transparency” that her constituents have demanded.
Three witnesses are set to testify today and Friday, including Bill Taylor, the Trump administration’s top diplomat in Ukraine and George Kent, deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs. Both had raised concerns in the closed-door hearings about the administration’s alleged attempt to force the Ukrainian government to investigate both alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 US election and a company that had employed Hunter Biden, the former vice president’s son. Slotkin says that for her as a former civil servant, having worked in the CIA and in the Pentagon for 15 years in both the Bush and Obama administrations, “…these are people that I identify with. They’re people who are apolitical and who just believe they have a responsibility to protect and defend their country and I want the country to hear from them.”
On Friday, Marie Yovanovich, the former US ambassador to Ukraine, is set to appear. She was hastily ousted earlier this year, allegedly in a campaign to discredit her led by Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s personal attorney.
Five more hearings are scheduled for next week, featuring eight officials testifying over three days before the committee, composed of 13 Democrats and nine Republicans. (TT/JK)