William Taylor (left), George Kent (center) and Marie Yovanovitch (Associated Press)

William Taylor (left), George Kent (center) and Marie Yovanovitch (Associated Press)

Meet the witnesses who will start off impeachment hearings

The diplomats will tell investigators what they know about President Trump’s actions toward Ukraine.

Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Diplomats and career government officials, they’re little known outside professional circles, but they’re about to become household names testifying in the House impeachment inquiry .

The witnesses will tell House investigators — and Americans tuning into the live public hearings — what they know about President Donald Trump’s actions toward Ukraine, including the July phone call with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy that ignited the impeachment inquiry.

First up will be William Taylor, the charge d’affaires in Ukraine, and George Kent, the deputy Assistant Secretary in the European and Eurasian Bureau, both testifying on Wednesday. On Friday, lawmakers will hear from former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.

Meet the witnesses:

William “Bill” Taylor

A longtime diplomat with a 50-year career of government service, Taylor returned to Ukraine this year after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo asked him to lead the U.S. Embassy.

The graduate of West Point and infantry officer with the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam had a storied career working around the globe, including on Iraq reconstruction and as the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine from 2006-09.

Trump recalled Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch after what others would testify was a smear campaign against her. When Taylor returned to Kyiv, he said he was stunned at what he found.

“I discovered a weird combination of encouraging, confusing and ultimately alarming circumstances,” Taylor testified on Oct. 22.

The diplomat went on to describe the “irregular” channel of U.S. policymaking, outside the official one. He soon learned it was being run by Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, and others from the administration. “A confusing and unusual arrangement,” he testified.

Taylor has served under every presidential administration, Republican and Democrat, since 1985, and also worked for then-Sen. Bill Bradley, D-N.J.

More recently he was an executive vice president at the nonpartisan U.S. Institute of Peace.

George Kent

The bow-tie wearing career foreign service officer speaks Ukrainian, Russian and Thai and has worked in Poland, Uzbekistan and Bangkok. He joined the State Department in 1992.

Kent testified on Oct. 15 there were three words Trump wanted to hear from the Ukraine president: “Investigations, Biden and Clinton.”

He also told the investigators about the “campaign of lies” against Yovanovitch that he said was waged by the president’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani.

Kent is a graduate of Harvard and the Johns Hopkins’ School of Advanced International Studies, as well as National Defense University’s Eisenhower School. He is a fan of the Red Sox.

Marie “Masha” Yovanovitch

She had twice served as an ambassador — to the Kyrgyz Republic and to Armenia — before being confirmed as the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine in a Senate voice vote in July 2016.

Seen as a tough ambassador, at a time when the U.S. was trying to root out corruption in the young democracy, she was recalled from Ukraine by Trump last spring.

Known as Masha, Yovanovitch testified on Oct. 11 that she was told that people were “looking to hurt” her. One senior Ukraine official said she needed to “watch my back.”

She is a career diplomat having served in several top positions as a principal deputy assistant secretary for the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, a senior adviser and the dean of the language school at the Foreign Service Institute.

She is now working as a senior State Department fellow at Georgetown University.

Talk to us

More in Nation-World

Supreme Court: LGBT people protected from job discrimination

Justices Samuel Alito, Brett Kavanaugh and Clarence Thomas dissented.

Boeing, suppliers plunge on stop-and-go 737 Max comeback

An uptick in Covid-19 cases in the U.S. has added to concerns that airlines face a prolonged recovery

Boeing goes another month without a single airliner order

Airlines are canceling thousands of flights while passengers remain too scared to fly.

Bellevue couple’s nightmare: Held in China, away from daughter

Chinese officials want the man’s father to return from the U.S. to face 20-year-old embezzling charges.

Airbus CEO warns workers it’s bleeding cash and needs cuts

Both Airbus and Boeing are preparing for job cuts as they gauge the depth of the downturn.

U.S. unsure it can meet deadline to disburse funds to tribes

The department hasn’t determined whether unique Alaska Native corporations are eligible for a share.

As people stay home, Earth turns wilder and cleaner

“There’s some silver lining for wildlife in what otherwise is a fairly catastrophic time for humans.”

Trump, Congress scramble to revive virus-hunting agency

In 2019 it was without a permanent leader, and in the Trump administration’s budget-slashing sights.

Virus casts a dark cloud over once-thriving home market

Shutdown orders have halted open houses, sellers are delaying listings and buyers are losing their jobs.

Sanders drops 2020 bid, leaving Biden as likely nominee

“While our campaign has won the ideological debate, we are losing the debate over electability.”

Trump signs $2.2T stimulus after swift congressional votes

Both parties lined up behind the most colossal economic relief bill in the nation’s history.

Senate unanimously passes massive coronavirus aid plan

The 880-page measure is the largest economic relief bill in U.S. history.