WASHINGTON — The pace of impeachment hearings is accelerating this week, with eight witnesses scheduled to testify publicly before the House Intelligence Committee, including the first requested by Republicans.

Starting Tuesday, members will hear from officials who listened in on the July 25 phone call that is central to the inquiry into President Donald Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. Others played a direct role in the president’s efforts to handle foreign policy outside regular State Department channels, including one who dealt directly with Trump.

The fact that these public hearings are broadcast to millions of Americans could be a factor in the order Democrats decided to have them appear, similar to how prosecutors in a trial order witnesses to make their case before a jury.

“The conventional wisdom on trials is that you want to start strong and end strong,” said Paul Cassell, a criminal law professor at the University of Utah and a former federal judge. “Every trial is going to have some high and low moments to it, but you want to begin aggressively to get everyone’s attention and then end strongly, as well.”

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The committee appears set to conclude public testimony this week, but on Monday one possible surprise witness popped up on Twitter — the president himself.

In response to an invitation to testify or submit written testimony by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on CBS’ Face the Nation, Trump tweeted that while he considers the hearings a “hoax,” he said “I like the idea” and will “strongly consider” offering written testimony.

While the president’s testimony would constitute a strong — or at least interesting — ending, here is a list of the witnesses and when they will testify:

Tuesday morning:

Jennifer Williams, a Foreign Service officer and special adviser on Europe and Russia to Vice President Mike Pence, listened in on the call. In closed-door testimony, Williams called the phone conversation “unusual and inappropriate.”

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who serves as the director for European Affairs at the National Security Council, also listened in on the call and testified the rough transcript of the call released by the White House was not complete. He was also in other meetings where he learned White House acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney coordinated the plan to push Ukraine for the Biden investigations.

Tuesday afternoon:

Kurt Volker, former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine, was one of the “three amigos” — along with Ambassador Gordon Sondland and Energy Secretary Rick Perry — involved in the president’s back-channel Ukraine policy, pressing for the country to conduct investigations Trump sought.

Tim Morrison, a White House aide with the National Security Council focusing on Europe and Russia policy. Morrison listened in on the call, but told House investigators in closed-door testimony that he didn’t find it improper or illegal, although he feared it could be leaked.

Both Volker and Morrison were among witnesses Republicans requested to testify.

Wednesday morning:

Gordon Sondland, U.S. ambassador to the European Union. He is the only witness who directly communicated with the president over dealings with Ukraine. He revised his closed-door testimony to say he did tell Ukrainian officials that the military aid was tied to them publicly announcing they would conduct investigations Trump wanted.

Wednesday afternoon:

Laura Cooper, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russian, Ukrainian, and Eurasian Affairs. Testified about learning from Volker that Ukraine aid was being withheld until that country publicly announced it would conduct investigations Trump wanted.

— David Hale, the under secretary of state for political affairs, is expected to testify on events leading up to recalling Marie Yovanovitch as ambassador in May. He was also asked to testify by Republicans. A transcript of his earlier testimony is not available.


Fiona Hill, former National Security Council senior director for Europe and Russia, is the only witness scheduled and she may complete the public hearings before the House Intelligence Committee. She reported to former national security adviser John Bolton, and says Bolton was alarmed at the back channel dealings with Ukraine and characterized what Sondland and Mulvaney were doing as a “drug deal.” She described Trump’s call with Zelenskiy and other events leading up to it “my worst fears and nightmares.”

All eight witnesses previously testified to the committee in closed-door sessions.

The impeachment inquiry is centered on a whistle blower’s complaint about a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, during which Trump allegedly leveraged military aid and a sought-after White House visit in exchange for Ukraine investigating political rival Joe Biden and his son, as well as alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Democrats have characterized the quid pro quo as bribery, while Republicans counter that the president eventually released the aid and no investigations were conducted. Trump has said the call was “perfect” and Zelenskiy said at a joint news conference in September that he felt no pressure from Trump.

But, the Associated Press reported Monday that State Department officials were aware back in May that Zelenskiy was feeling pressure to investigate Biden, a front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Embassy staff in Kyiv, including then-Ambassador Yovanovitch, were “briefed on a meeting Zelenskiy held in which he sought advice on how to navigate the difficult position he was in,” according to the AP.

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“He was concerned that Trump and associates were pressing him to take action that could affect the 2020 U.S. presidential race,” two sources with knowledge of the briefing told the AP. “They spoke only on condition of anonymity because of the diplomatic and political sensitivity of the issue.”

Yovanovitch was among three career diplomats who kicked off the public impeachment hearings last week with detailed testimony about an “irregular” back channel of U.S. foreign policy in Ukraine coordinated by Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, who was allegedly pressing Ukraine to investigate Biden.

Some of this week’s witnesses worked in that back channel, tried to thwart it or listened in on the July 25 phone call and said they were troubled by what they heard.

Deseret News reporter Matthew Brown (@mbrownreport) is live-tweeting the impeachment hearing on Tuesday:

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