The impeachment hearings begin today for President Donald Trump and will be broadcast live.
This previously private probe will become publicly televised as the first two witnesses testify.
Impeachment hearings begin today
Two important witnesses, both seasoned diplomats, are scheduled to testify together today.
Being questioned will be Ambassador William Taylor, who serves as the Charge d’Affaires for the US State Department in Ukraine.
The other is diplomat being questioned is George Kent, Deputy Assistant Secretary who serves in the European and Eurasian Bureau at the US Department of State.
A historic event: Fourth impeachment hearing in US history
As the impeachment inquiry begins on Wednesday, November 13, 2019, it will be an historic day. Only three times before has the United States investigated its own president for impeachment.
However, no US president has ever been convicted and removed from office by being impeached.
Andrew Johnson in 1867 was the first president to face impeachment, but was exonerated by the Senate. The second president, Richard Nixon in 1974, resigned before the impeachment proceedings could be completed.
The third president was Bill Clinton in 1998, who was also exonerated by the Senate.
President Donald Trump now becomes the fourth president to face an impeachment investigation.
Another historic factor
There is another historic factor that is a first.
What makes this impeachment hearing different than the three that have preceded it is the ability for real-time commentary, including from the president himself, through the milieu of social media – something did not exist in previous proceedings.
Public will now hear what Democrats have been hiding
Both Democratic and Republican committee members, as well as the American public, will finally hear testimony regarding allegations that President Trump used foreign policy for personal and political gain in Ukraine by demanding quid pro quo to investigate his Democratic rival in the 2020 election.
Republicans have complained all along about the enclosed-door sessions being held by Democrats, which GOP lawmakers crashed on one occasion.
The critical question
The critical question comes down to whether President Trump’s actions in Ukraine will meet the threshold of what constitutes “high crimes and misdemeanors.”
When it comes to the U.S. Constitution, the standard is a bit vague. And for this reason, it’s anyone’s guess as to whether or not the bar will be reached to bring charges against the president.
Schiff lays out the agenda, won’t let Republicans ask whistleblower or Hunter Biden questions
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Representative Adam Schiff, (D-CA), who is leading the impeachment inquiry, is the one who is laying out the agenda.
Schiff denied a request by Republican lawmakers to directly question the whistleblower or Hunter Biden.
“As explained in my November 9, 2019, response to the ranking member, it is important to underscore that the House’s impeachment inquiry, and the committee, will not serve as venues for any member to further the same sham investigations into the Bidens or into debunked conspiracies about the 2016 U.S. election interference that President Trump pressed Ukraine to undertake for his personal political benefit,” Schiff wrote a memo laying out the rules.
“Nor will the committee facilitate any efforts” by the president or his allies “to threaten, intimidate, or retaliate, against the whistleblower.”
In a memo to Democratic lawmakers, Schiff deemed the proceedings to be a “solemn undertaking” and called on his colleagues to “approach these proceedings with the seriousness of purpose and love of country that they demand.”
Impeachment puts Democrats on dangerous ground for 2020
The impeachment proceedings are going to prove to be dangerous ground for Democrats. A variety of polls shows roughly an equal split among the American people for and against impeaching President Trump.
What this means for Democrats is, should the impeachment effort fail, they are running the risk of turning public sentiment against the party, both at the congressional and presidential level, in the upcoming 2020 elections.
Likewise, impeachment is dangerous grounds for Republicans as well, for the same reasons.
A successful impeachment could potentially cause Republicans to not only lose what seems to be a near-certain chance for victory in the 2020 presidential election, but also see a potential blue wave take away the GOP majority in the Senate.