Impeachment investigators are set to hear from two key witnesses who grew alarmed at how US President Donald Trump and others in his orbit were conducting foreign policy in Ukraine.

David Holmes, a political counsellor at the US Embassy in Kiev, has said he was having lunch with US Ambassador Gordon Sondland this summer when he heard Mr Trump on the phone asking the envoy about the investigations he wanted from the Ukraine president.

The colourful exchange was like nothing he had ever seen, Mr Holmes said in an earlier closed-door deposition.

The second witness – Fiona Hill – has said her National Security Council boss John Bolton cut short a meeting with visiting Ukrainians at the White House when Mr Sondland started asking them about “investigations”.

The two witnesses set to appear on Thursday are the last scheduled for public hearings in an inquiry that has brought hours of testimony from a roster of current and former US government officials defying Mr Trump’s orders not to appear.

David Holmes is set to give evidence to the impeachment inquiry

The impeachment inquiry focuses on allegations that Mr Trump sought investigations of former vice-president Joe Biden and his son – and the discredited idea that Ukraine rather than Russia interfered in the 2016 US election – in return for the badly needed military aid and a White House visit the new Ukrainian president wanted to show his backing from the West.

Those testifying publicly this week previously appeared for private depositions, most having received subpoenas compelling them to give evidence.

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