Breaking down first day of public impeachment hearings

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(WFLA) – UPDATE: Congress held its first public impeachment hearing in the ongoing investigation into President Donald Trump on Wednesday. The hearing began around 10 a.m. Testimony wrapped up around 4 p.m.

WFLA was joined by several guests after the hearings to give their input about the first day of testimony.

2 p.m. – While welcoming the President of Turkey to the White House, President Trump tells reporters he’s not watching the impeachment hearings.

“I did not watch it. I’m too busy to watch it. It’s a witch hunt, it’s a hoax. I’m too busy to watch it,” the president said. “I see they’re using lawyers that are television lawyers, they took some guys off television. I’m not surprised to see it because Schiff can’t do his own questions.”


1:45 p.m. – Members of the committee started taking five-minute turns to question the witnesses on Wednesday afternoon.

Rep. Val Demings (D-FL) asked both witnesses what Giuliani was promoting in Ukraine.

“I believe he was looking to dig up political dirt against a potential rival in the next election cycle,” Kent said.

Ambassador Taylor agreed.

In time that was yielded to him, Rep. Jordan slammed the whistleblower and evidence that was brought up by Democrats.

Rep. Ratcliffe brought up a previous comment from Kent, stating the president has the right to have ambassador’s serve at his pleasure.

“So you agree with me that we shouldn’t impeach a president for exercising his constitutional authority,” Ratcliffe stated.

Kent responded, “I am here as a fact witness to answer your questions. Your constitutional obligation is to consider the evidence before you.”

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) asked Ambassador Taylor if it’s “just wrong” to withhold aid in exchange for political interference. Taylor answered yes.

“Our holding up of security assistance that would go to a country fighting aggression from Russia for no good policy reason…is wrong,” he said.

Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX) got into a brief argument with Ambassador Taylor and Rep. Schiff after asking then withdrawing a question.

Taylor tells him, “I’m not here to decide about impeachment…This is your job.”

Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT) asked Kent to clarify whether President Trump’s actions are “exactly the same” as what Vice President Joe Biden has done.

Kent answered that he does not think they are the same.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) criticized Ambassador Taylor’s testimony during his questioning.

“I’ve seen church prayer chains that are easier to understand than this,” Rep. Jordan said.


1 p.m. – Rep. Schiff got into a brief verbal scuffle with the GOP counsel and other GOP lawmakers over a line of questioning.


12:45 p.m. – After a brief break in testimony, the committee resumed questioning around 12:45 p.m.

WATCH: Post-hearing analysis with Trump 2020 National Spokesperson Kayleigh McEnany

WATCH: Post-hearing analysis with Hillsborough County Democratic Chair Ione Townsend

WATCH: Post-hearing analysis with Democratic Florida House candidate Andrew Learned

WATCH: Post-hearing analysis with Jonathan Torres, former regional director for Sen. Marco Rubio

It’s a historic day on Capitol Hill Wednesday. Congress holds its first public impeachment hearing in the ongoing investigation into President Donald Trump.

We will bring you the latest updates from the hearings here. The newest updates will appear at the top. (All times are ET)


12:20 p.m. – The committee is taking a five-minute break in questioning.


11:15 a.m. – White House Press Sec. Grisham delivered a statement to NBC saying President Trump is not watching the impeachment hearing but is “in the Oval Office” and “working.”


10:50 a.m. – Witness William Taylor, acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, delivered an opening statement to the committee.

Taylor gave a deposition behind closer doors to Congressional committees on Oct. 22. His 324-page transcript was released on Nov. 6.

Taylor told investigators there was a parallel foreign policy channel setup that he believed undermined U.S. national security interests in Ukraine.


10:35 a.m. – Witness George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of state for European & Eurasian affairs, delivered his opening statement to the committee. In his statement, Kent said he’s served proudly as a nonpartisan career foreign service officer for more than 27 years under five presidents.

Kent gave a deposition behind closed doors on Oct. 15. His 355-page transcript was released on Nov. 7.

In his deposition, Kent described how Rudy Giuliani went against the traditional bipartisan approach regarding U.S. support for Ukraine in an effort to push for political investigations.


10:30 a.m. – Witnesses William “Bill” Taylor and George Kent were sworn in around 10:30 a.m.

Shortly after the two were sworn in, Rep. Schiff tangled with Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) over additional witnesses and questions that will be asked of the witnesses.

“Will you be prohibiting witnesses from answering members’ questions as you have in the closed door depositions?” Rep. Stefanik asked.

Rep. Schiff responded, “The only times I prevented witnesses from answering questions, along with their council, was when it was apparent they were seeking to out the whistleblower. We will do everything necessary to protect the whistleblower’s identity. I’m disturbed to hear members of the committee who have, in the past voiced strong support for whistleblowers’ protections, seek to undermine those protections by outing the whistleblower.”


10:10 a.m. – The public hearings into President Trump get underway in Washington. Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) began the hearings with an opening statement on the questions presented in the impeachment inquiry.


8:30 a.m. – President Donald Trump issued two tweets ahead of the impeachment hearings.


To keep you informed, host J.B. Biunno and political reporter Evan Donovan will be joined by political

And to keep you informed, Host J.B. Biunno and political reporter Evan Donovan will be joined by political analysts and politicians throughout the day to answer your questions and discuss what’s happening in the hearings.

Democrats are accusing Trump of trading military aid to the Ukraine for their help in investigating his political rival Joe Biden. Republicans are denouncing the impeachment inquiry as an effort to undo the results of the 2016 election.

So, how will this week’s hearings work?

Two witnesses will testify: U.S. diplomat Bill Taylor and State Department official George Kent. Taylor currently serves as the Chargé D’affaires for the U.S. State Department in Ukraine. Kent serves as Deputy Assistant Secretary in the European and Eurasian Bureau at the U.S. Department of State.

House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff and Republican California Rep. Devin Nunes will lead the sessions. They’ll have 45 minutes each to question witnesses.

All other committee members will get 5 minutes each to do the same.

Americans haven’t seen public impeachment hearings since the Clinton era, and the House has only impeached two presidents in the nation’s history.

Our impeachment hearings coverage will continue until after the proceedings today and again on Friday.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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