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Three officials will testify this week as the impeachment inquiry enters a new phase with public hearings. House Republicans on Saturday submitted their wishlist of witnesses which included Hunter Biden and the whistleblower — both names ruled out by the Democrats. NewsHour’s Lisa Desjardin joins Megan Thompson to discuss the latest.
For more on the most recent developments in the impeachment inquiry and what's in store this week.
NewsHour correspondent Lisa Desjardins joins us now from Washington, D.C..
So we know that Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff has already rejected at least two of the people that Republicans want to see testify — Hunter Biden and the whistleblower. Are there any people on their list that we think that Democrats will go for?
My guess is that they will likely call Kurt Volker, the former U.S. envoy to Ukraine. He is someone that Republicans and Democrats think helps both of their cases. And he testified behind closed doors. And I think it's also very possible they'll call the other two witnesses they've already heard from behind closed doors. That's David Hale, he's the number three official at the State Department right now.
And then in addition to that, Tim Morrison, he's a National Security Council official who recently left Republicans like him because he's well-known to them. He used to work as a House staffer. Democrats believe he also adds credence to some of their theories. So those three I think we could see a grant agreement on hearing from for both parties.
What else stood out to you about this Republican list?
Well, this is not a unique thought for me, but it is interesting that not only do Republicans want to call the whistleblower whose name they say they don't know or at least they're not putting out in public because it's protected from lawmakers disclosing. But they also want to call anyone who helped the whistleblower put together the letter raising complaint, anyone who helped the whistleblower along the way.
Are Republicans completely united in their desire to see the whistleblower testify?
Well, I don't know if Republicans are united on the nuances here. But I do think Republicans are united in wanting to try and find out what this person's motivations were. Is this someone who has worked with Democratic officials in the past and could have a political bias against the president? They all want to find that out. They disagree on how far to go to do that.
White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney did not show up on Friday to testify, even though he did receive a subpoena. And now we're learning this weekend that he's joining a lawsuit over House subpoena power. What is that all about?
It's fascinating. Mulvaney, who himself is technically the top staffer at the White House, is saying that he is unsure if he should follow White House directives, that he not testify or if he should comply with the subpoena. This is a change from his flat refusal before. Mulvaney now, rather than just flat reject the subpoena, is saying, hey, I want to wait for a court to rule in. There's a lot of strategy here.
We could go on for hours, but essentially I think more what Mulvaney is doing here is he doesn't want to add to Democrats case for obstruction. He wants to say, hey, the only reason I'm not cooperating is because I'm waiting for a court, rather than, I refuse to. Democrats think he is obstructing their investigation and they will raise that point.
Another central player in all of this is President Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani. Democrats have not requested his testimony. Why is that?
So interesting. You know, they did subpoena documents from Mr. Giuliani in September. So early on, he refused. And they believe that he would continue to refuse a subpoena for testimony. But nonetheless, they haven't issued it. I am wondering myself exactly why they haven't issued that subpoena. And we know that Republicans also have not requested his testimony.
You know, my take away from this is, both sides believe he could either be a shield or a detriment to the president. And both sides are nervous potentially about his testimony at this point. I wouldn't be surprised if his name comes up later, but we have to wait and see. There's a lot of very, there's a lot of caution about Rudy Giuliani. Both sides know he's unpredictable.
So the hearings will kick off on Wednesday morning. What can we expect to see happen? How is it all going to work and what are you going to be looking for?
Well, I think anyone who wants to come need to get in line early. I expect a long line for this one. And we're going to have three witnesses this weekend, starting with Bill Taylor, who is now the lead ambassador, the lead diplomat, rather, in Ukraine and Kiev, followed by another State Department official, George Kent, longtime career official here in Washington. And then finally next week, we will hear from the former ambassador to Ukraine, Maria Voinovich.
These are all three of the strongest witnesses Democrats feel for their case that the president or his staff or both were trying to extort Ukraine, essentially, to force them to get investigations in exchange for millions of dollars that Ukraine needed. So we're going to hear a lot about that from Democrats with all of these witnesses. But in the meantime, Republicans are still getting together on exactly the points they want to push the most. The messaging has changed again and again.
But I think they're most likely to raise the idea that no one directly connects that idea of a quid pro quo or forcing Ukraine to do something from aid money to the president. None of these witnesses heard that directly from the president. They also are very likely to raise these other investigations that they think are the real problem. The idea of Hunter Biden, what was he doing in Ukraine and the 2016 election. We could see more fights about whether that is a conspiracy theory, as Democrats say, or something relevant as Republicans argue.
Lisa Desjardins, we look forward to hearing a lot more from you this week. Thank you.
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