• Schiff, a Democrat, opened the impeachment hearing attempting to explain in simple terms what the investigation revolves around.
Wednesday marked a new and unparalleled chapter in Donald Trump's tumultuous presidency, as a Democratic-led impeachment probe in the U.S. Congress went public with televised hearings into allegations about Trump's dealings with Ukraine.
The first of two witnesses began publicly detailing his concerns that the Trump administration sought to tie military aid to Ukraine to an investigation of the Republican president's potential Democratic rival for the presidency, former Vice President Joe Biden.
Below are quotations from the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee hearing and noteworthy outside reaction.
HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN ADAM SCHIFF:
Schiff, a Democrat, opened the impeachment hearing attempting to explain in simple terms what the investigation revolves around.
Schiff noted that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy "was a newcomer to politics and immediately sought to establish a relationship with Ukraine's most powerful patron, the United States."
"The questions presented by this impeachment inquiry are whether President Trump sought to exploit that ally's vulnerability and invite Ukraine's interference in our elections; whether President Trump sought to condition official acts, such as a White House meeting or U.S. military assistance, on Ukraine's willingness to assist on two political investigations that would help his re-election campaign. And if President Trump did either, whether such an abuse of his power is compatible with the office of the presidency."
"If we find that the president of the United States abused his power and invited foreign interference in our elections or if he sought to condition, coerce, extort or bribe an ally into conducting investigations to aid his re-election campaign and did so by withholding official acts, a White House meeting or hundreds of millions of dollars of needed military aid, must we simply 'get over it?', Schiff said, referring to a statement Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney made in remarks to reporters.
"If this is not impeachable conduct, what is?"
HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE SENIOR REPUBLICAN DEVIN NUNES:
In opening remarks, Nunes dismissed the impeachment inquiry's first public hearings as "a televised theatrical performance staged by the Democrats" and a "low-rent Ukrainian sequel" to (Special Prosecutor Robert) Mueller's Russian investigation.
Nunes said no hearings should be held until three questions are answered - "what is the full extent of the Democrats' prior coordination with the whistleblower; what is the full extent of Ukraine's election meddling against the Trump campaign; and, third, why did Burisma hire Hunter Biden, what did he do for them, and did his work affect the Obama administration?"
The impeachment inquiry began following the submission by an unnamed "whistleblower" of a detailed report that raised concerns about Trump's contacts with Ukraine.
WHITE HOUSE REACTION TO SCHIFF'S OPENING STATEMENT:
The White House wrote in a tweet about Adam Schiff: "Last time Adam Schiff delivered an opening statement to the public, it was a made up parody of a conversation between President Trump and the President of Ukraine. He has no credibility whatsoever."
GEORGE CONWAY, VOCAL TRUMP CRITIC WHO IS MARRIED TO TRUMP SENIOR ADVISER KELLYANNE CONWAY:
"It's the moment," Conway told MSNBC News. "This is about putting the country, the law, truth above partisanship," he said, calling Republican lawmakers' behavior "appalling."
HEARING WITNESS GEORGE KENT, DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE FOR EUROPEAN AND EURASIAN AFFAIRS, OPENING STATEMENT:
"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, because such selective actions undermine the rule of law regardless of the country."
HEARING WITNESS WILLIAM TAYLOR, ACTING U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE, OPENING STATEMENT:
"I found a confusing and unusual arrangement for making U.S. policy toward Ukraine. There appeared to be two channels of U.S. policymaking and implementation, one regular and one highly irregular."
TRUMP-PENCE RE-ELECTION CAMPAIGN FUNDRAISING EMAIL SENT SOON AFTER HEARING BEGAN:
"The Impeachment Scam hearings begin today! This is a complete Fake Hearing (trial) to interview Never Trumpers and a Pelosi-Schiff SCAM against the Republican Party and me.
"It's obvious they hate me, but more importantly, they HATE YOU. The Democrats know they can’t win in 2020, so they want to rip the power from your hands by ERASING your VOTE, ERASING your VOICE, and ERASING your FUTURE!"