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WASHINGTON — Transcripts of private depositions in the House impeachment inquiry are being released.  The depositions cover hours-and-hours of testimony from current and former officials in the Trump administration. 

“Contrary to the claims of the president and his claims on the Hill, ‘these have been proceedings in which Republicans have not been able to present or ask questions’, in fact, Republicans have been present at all of these depositions,” said House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff.

Schiff noted that Republicans have been very involved in asking questions.  Republicans have accused Democrats of leading a closed impeachment inquiry in the basement of the Capitol.  Schiff chairs the House Intelligence Committee. 

The first releases cover testimony from veteran diplomat Michael McKinley and former U.S.-Ukraine ambassador Marie Yovanovitch.  Yovanovitch was forced out and Schiff said she was the victim of a “smear campaign” at the highest levels of the Trump administration. 

The impeachment inquiry enters a new phase this month with expected public hearings.  The investigation is focused on Trump’s July phone call with the president of Ukraine. 

Trump pressed the Ukrainian leader to investigate Democrats at the same time he was withholding nearly $400 million in planned military aid to Ukraine.  The congressionally-authorized money was eventually released.  

(PHOTO: Drew Angerer/GettyImages)