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House Democrats announce public impeachment hearings to begin next week

Sen. Lindsey Graham at an Oct. 24 press conference on impeachment

The interim ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent will testify on November 13.

"His assertions and allegations against former Ambassador Yovanovitch were without basis, untrue, period", Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs George Kent told lawmakers during a closed-door session on October 15 as part of their impeachment probe of Trump.

In a preview of what is to come, lawmakers leading the probe released testimony that showed the top USA diplomat in Ukraine, William Taylor, believed a White House-led effort to pressure Kiev to investigate Ukrainian energy company Burisma was motivated by a desire to help Trump win re-election next year.

"Potus wanted nothing less than President Zelenskyy to go to the microphone and say investigations, Biden and Clinton", Kent testified.

"That was the message".

Mulvaney dramatically confirmed last month that Trump froze almost $400 million in United States security aid to Ukraine partially to pressure the country into investigating Democrats - and proceeded hours later to deny having said so.

They are trying to determine whether Trump froze US$391 million (S$540 million) in United States security assistance for Ukraine to put pressure on Zelenskiy to conduct the investigation, misusing United States foreign policy for his personal gain.

Taylor, who came out of retirement in June to serve as a special USA envoy to Ukraine, will be the first of two witnesses to recount their private testimony in a public setting, as the impeachment inquiry enters a new, more television-friendly phase.

Williams was one of a handful of United States officials who listened in on the call.

"I'm told no", the White House counselor told reporters when asked if Mulvaney plans to appear.

The Washington Post reported Wednesday night that Trump in September, when the administration released a rough transcript of the call with President Volodymyr Zelensky, floated a request to White House aides and in turn the Justice Department that Barr declare to the press that Trump had broken no laws.

Democrats subpoenaed Mulvaney late Thursday as the White House signalled that he wouldn't appear.

He said that Vindman told him that "the conversation went into the direction of some of the most extreme narratives that have been discussed publicly".

"A$3 s I understood the reason for investigating Burisma was to cast Vice President Biden in a bad light", Taylor said.

"This has been a very bad experience for me", Sondland said last month during a almost 10-hour grilling by members of the House committees conducting the impeachment investigation.

A national security official told House impeachment investigators the transcript of the July 25 call between President Donald Trump and Ukraine's leader at the center of the probe was edited to remove a reference to the energy company with ties to Joe Biden's son.

A lawyer for a whistleblower who triggered the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump has sent a cease and desist letter to the White House.

Taylor also quoted himself as telling another diplomat that it would be a "nightmare" if the Trump administration withheld the military aid even if Ukraine committed to the desired investigations.

Representative Adam Schiff, the Democratic chairman of the Intelligence Committee, said on Wednesday his committee would hold the first public sessions next week.

"I told Bill Taylor, that's wrong, and we shouldn't be doing that as a matter of USA policy", Kent said, referring to William Taylor, the top diplomat in Ukraine who has also testified in the inquiry.

Republican Rep. John Ratcliffe, a Texas Republican, sought to portray Trump's request for a favor in his phone call with the Ukrainian president as falling short of a demand.

Senate Republicans have so far shown little appetite for ousting the president.