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Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) announced on Twitter Wednesday that his committee will hold its first public impeachment hearings next week.

Driving the news: On Wednesday, Nov. 13, the committee will interview top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine Bill Taylor and State Department official George Kent. On Friday, Nov. 15, the committee will interview former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.

Why it matters: The move from closed-door interviews to public testimony is a significant step in the impeachment inquiry and an indication of how quickly the House investigation into Trump and Ukraine is moving.

The big picture: Taylor, a respected career diplomat, told House investigators last month that Trump conditioned the release of military aid on the Ukrainian president's willingness to promise to investigate natural gas company Burisma and alleged interference in the 2016 election. The desired investigations involved Joe Biden and the Democratic National Committee, two of Trump's domestic political opponents.

  • Kent, the deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, testified that he was told to "lay low" on Ukraine matters, and that he was edged out on Ukraine policy by EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland, special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker and Energy Secretary Rick Perry, per the New York Times.
  • Marie Yovanovitch testified in private that Rudy Giuliani and his associates led a campaign to have her ousted over allegations that she was blocking Ukraine from opening these investigations, and that she spoke negatively about the president. A transcript of her testimony was released earlier this week.

Between the lines: Committee sources tell Axios' Alayna Treene their goal is to keep the public hearings narrowly focused so that it's both easy for the American public to follow and helps accelerate the impeachment timeline. They're focused on bringing in the career officials who revealed the most about Trump and Ukraine — meaning don't expect many new names or faces as the inquiry shifts to a more public setting.

Go deeper: Gordon Sondland testifies that Ukraine aid was conditioned on Biden investigation

Go deeper

Updated 3 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Thousands without power as "hazardous" winter storm lashes East Coast

Satellite imagery of the Northeastern U.S. taken by NOAA on Jan. 17. Photo: NOAA

A major winter storm lashed much of the East Coast Sunday and Monday, causing widespread power outages and disrupting travel over the holiday weekend.

The latest: Authorities in North Carolina confirmed that two people died in a car crash and that they responded 600 vehicle accidents during the storm on Sunday, per the Washington Post.

Texas abortion law remains in effect after appeals court ruling

Pro- and anti-abortion protesters outside the Supreme Court as arguments begin about the Texas abortion law on Capitol Hill in November. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

A U.S. appeals court transferred a challenge to Texas' law banning most abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy to the state supreme court in a 2-1 vote on Monday evening.

Why it matters: The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' decision means the country's most restrictive abortion law can remain in place for the time being.

5 hours ago - World

At least 2 dead after Tonga volcano eruption and tsunami

A satellite image of the explosive eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano on Saturday. Photo: UNICEF/NOAA

At least two people are confirmed to have died in Tonga following the undersea volcanic eruption that sent tsunami waves toward the island nation and across the Pacific over the weekend, officials said Monday.

The big picture: Officials reported major damage along the western coast of the main island of Tongatapu, where the capital, Nuku'alofa, was covered in ash and dust, including on the runway of the airport. A New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson told Axios over the phone that two people had been confirmed to have died in the disaster.