Photo Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos by Alex Wong via Getty Images, and Maxym Marusenko/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The next phase of impeachment begins at 10 a.m. today with the first public hearing about President Trump's actions toward Ukraine — so here's a look at the witnesses you're likely to see.

Why it matters: Impeachment so far has been a messy and confusing process, with so many subplots that it's easy to lose track of what really matters: whether Trump held up military aid and a White House meeting with Ukraine's new president in exchange for a public promise to investigate Joe Biden's family.

Testifying today:

  • Ambassador Bill Taylor: The top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine. He says it was his "clear understanding" that Trump would not release military aid to Ukraine until its president promised to conduct the investigations Trump wanted.
  • Deputy Assistant Secretary George Kent: He says Trump wanted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to go to the microphones "and say investigations, Biden, and Clinton."

Testifying Friday:

  • Former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch: The former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. She says she was pushed out over unsubstantiated allegations that she was critical of Trump and didn't want Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and his son. 

Testifying next week:

Tuesday:

  • Jennifer Williams: An aide to Vice President Mike Pence, on detail from the State Department. She was on the July call between Trump and Zelensky and said she had concerns with the political nature of the call.
  • Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman: A decorated war veteran and the National Security Council's top Ukraine expert. He was on the July call and says Mulvaney coordinated the plan to push Ukraine for the Biden investigations.
  • Kurt Volker, former Special Envoy to Ukraine: He describes what officials saw as Rudy Giuliani's improper role in U.S. diplomacy.
  • Former National Security Council adviser Tim Morrison: He was also on the July call, and says he was told directly about Trump's efforts to pressure Ukraine to open political investigations.

Wednesday:

  • EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland: He revised his initial testimony to say he told a Ukrainian official that the country wouldn't get military aid unless it caved to Trump's demands.
  • Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russian, Ukrainian, and Eurasian Affairs Laura Cooper: She says it was her understanding that Trump himself directed the freeze on aid to Ukraine, and that officials raised concerns after the aid was suspended.
  • Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale: He spoke to what many officials described as Yovanovitch's questionable removal.

Thursday:

  • Former Russia aide Fiona Hill: She reported to former National Security Adviser John Bolton, and says Bolton believed Sondland and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney were cooking up a "drug deal" with Ukraine.

Democrats have also shown interest in having the following individuals appear, but they have rejected Congress' requests:

  • Bolton.
  • Mulvaney.
  • Former deputy National Security Adviser Charles Kupperman.
  • Acting Office of Management and Budget director Russell Vought.

Republicans also want Hunter Biden and the whistleblower — both targets of Trump — to appear for public hearings.

  • But an official working on impeachment told Axios that the House Intelligence Committee said Hunter Biden and the whistleblower are "absolute nonstarters": "We will not conduct the sham investigations the president demanded that instigated this inquiry."

Go deeper

7 hours ago - Health

Fauci says if people won't wear masks, maybe it should be mandated

Anthony Fauci. Photo: Graeme Jennings- Pool/Getty Images

NIAID director Anthony Fauci told CNN on Friday evening that if "people are not wearing masks, then maybe we should be mandating it."

Why it matters: Fauci made the comments the same day the U.S. hit its highest daily COVID-19 case count since the pandemic began.

Harris to Black voters: Casting a ballot is about honoring your ancestors

Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris speaks at a "Get Out The Vote" rally at Morehouse College. Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. Kamala Harris appealed to Black voters in Georgia on Friday, urging them to "honor the ancestors" by casting ballots, and again calling President Trump a "racist."

Why it matters: The U.S. saw a significant decline in African-American voter turnout between 2012 and 2016, reaching its lowest point since 2000. Higher turnout among Black Americans this year could tip the balance in favor of Democrats in key battleground states, including Georgia.

Updated 8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Fauci: Trump hasn't been to a COVID task force meeting in months.
  2. Sports: The youth sports exodus continues — Big Ten football is back.
  3. Health: U.S. hits highest daily COVID-19 case count since pandemic began —AstraZeneca to resume vaccine trial in U.S.How to help save 130,000 lives.
  4. Retail: Santa won't greet kids at Macy's this year.
  5. World: Spain and France exceed 1 million cases.

Get Axios AM in your inbox

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!