Schiff says GOP must prove relevance for impeachment hearing witnesses

Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffSunday Talk Shows: Lawmakers look ahead to House vote on articles of impeachment, Senate trial Supreme Court takes up fight over Trump financial records Democrats approve two articles of impeachment against Trump in Judiciary vote MORE (D-Calif.), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said Republicans must justify the relevance of witnesses they want to call in public hearings as part of the impeachment inquiry into President TrumpDonald John TrumpRepublicans aim to avoid war with White House over impeachment strategy New York Times editorial board calls for Trump's impeachment Trump rips Michigan Rep. Dingell after Fox News appearance: 'Really pathetic!' MORE

Schiff in a letter to Rep. Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesDemocrats launch bilingual ad campaign off drug pricing bill Koch campaign touts bipartisan group behind ag labor immigration bill Hillicon Valley: Apple, Facebook defend encryption during Senate grilling | Tech legal shield makes it into trade deal | Impeachment controversy over phone records heats up | TikTok chief cancels Capitol Hill meetings MORE (R-Calif.), the ranking member of the panel, late Wednesday outlined questions that will be used to weigh whether a witness's testimony would be germane.

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Among the questions are whether President Trump requested “that a foreign leader and government initiate investigations to benefit the President’s personal political interests” and if he sought to use his office “to apply pressure on the head of state and government of Ukraine to advance the President’s personal political interests,” including leveraging an Oval Office meeting or millions of dollars in military aid.

Schiff also said witnesses must speak to whether the president or administration officials sought to obstruct or cover up any evidence regarding Trump’s actions. 

Republicans must submit their witness requests to Schiff by Saturday, including a written justification for the relevance of the testimony from each person they intend to call. 

House Democrats announced Wednesday that they will hold their first public impeachment hearings next week as they ramp up their investigation into Trump's dealings with Ukraine.

Schiff said that William Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat to Ukraine, and George Kent, a top State Department official, will testify on Wednesday. Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch is then expected to testify on Nov. 15.

Democrats and Republicans on the House Intelligence, Oversight and Reform, and Foreign Affairs committees have already conducted several interviews behind closed doors.

Schiff said in the letter to Nunes that Democrats don’t intend to request public testimony from every witness the committees have already interviewed, and Rep. Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsRepublicans aim to avoid war with White House over impeachment strategy GOP lawmakers jockey for positions as managers The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by UANI — Sparks fly as House Judiciary debates impeachment articles MORE (R-N.C.) has said the GOP would likely seek testimony from people beyond those who have already spoken privately.

Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanGOP lawmakers jockey for positions as managers Democrats approve two articles of impeachment against Trump in Judiciary vote Democrats object to Meadows passing note to Jordan from dais MORE (R-Ohio) added Thursday that Republicans intend to subpoena the government whistleblower who first raised alarm about interactions between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The effort is likely to fail, however, as Democrats have said they do not intend to out the anonymous figure over safety concerns and that other witnesses have already gone beyond what the official alleged. 

The House’s impeachment inquiry was launched in September amid Democratic concerns that Trump leveraged $400 million in military aid to pressure Zelensky to open an investigation into unfounded corruption allegations against former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenNew York Times editorial board calls for Trump's impeachment Graham invites Giuliani to testify about recent Ukraine trip Booker leads other 2020 Dems in petition urging DNC to change debate qualifications MORE, a top candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, and Biden's son.

The White House has repeatedly blasted the House investigation as a "witch hunt" and decried Democrats' efforts as "unhinged" after they voted to formalize the inquiry last week. 

Democrats have countered the president has abused his oath of office by seeking to involve foreign nations in U.S. domestic politics after publicizing testimony from several witnesses saying there was a quid pro quo surrounding Trump's dealings with Ukraine.