11/14/19

Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.) said Thursday that House Democrats don’t appear to be on track to wrap up their months-long impeachment investigation into President Trump anytime soon, saying the probe is “turning south” for the president’s critics.

Hice, who serves on the House Oversight and Reform Committee, emphasized Democrats have yet to specific a timeline for an impeachment vote, though they have signaled that they could bring a vote to the House floor by December.{mosads}

“It’s kind of up in the air right now,” Hice told Hill.TV. “Initially we were hearing through the grapevine that there might be a vote before Thanksgiving. Now I don’t think that’s going to happen.”

“This is turning south in a lot of ways for the Democrats,” he added.

Hice’s comments come the day after House lawmakers held their first public hearings as part of their ongoing impeachment inquiry.

William Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, and George Kent, a senior State Department official, were the first two public witnesses to appear before the Intelligence Committee on Wednesday.

During his testimony, Taylor gave an account of Trump’s “irregular” foreign policy channel with Ukraine, led by Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani. Taylor also detailed why he raised red flags upon hearing that the administration was withholding nearly $400 million in aid until the country agreed to open investigations into Trump’s political opponents.

“That security assistance was so important for Ukraine as well as our own national interest. To withhold that assistance for no good reason other than help with the political campaign made no sense,” Taylor testified.

Taylor also revealed new evidence during the hearing, saying one of his staffers had overheard the resident asking U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland about the investigations on a July 26 phone call.

Kent, for his part, testified that “as a general principle I do not believe the United States should ask other countries to engage in selective, politically associated investigations or prosecutions against opponents of those in power,” arguing that such actions “undermine the rule of law regardless of the country.”

Republicans, meanwhile, have dismissed the hearing as “boring,” insubstantial and based on second- and thirdhand information.

“What is being brought forth is only information that is based on hearsay,” Hice argued on Hill.TV. “These witnesses have actually witnessed nothing.”

—Tess Bonn

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