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History in the making: Donald Trump's impeachment hearing underway

Rep. Adam Schiff, the Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, immediately outlined the question at the core of the impeachment inquiry -- whether the president used his office to pressure Ukraine officials for personal political g...

AP|
Nov 13, 2019, 09.16 PM IST
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Donald Trump
The proceedings were being broadcast live, and on social media, from a packed hearing room on Capitol Hill. The country has been here only three times before, and never against the 21st century backdrop of real-time commentary, including from the Republican president himself.
WASHINGTON: The U.S. House launched the first public hearing Wednesday of Donald Trump’s impeachment investigation, the extraordinary process to determine whether the 45th president of the United States should be removed from office.

Rep. Adam Schiff, the Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, immediately outlined the question at the core of the impeachment inquiry -- whether the president used his office to pressure Ukraine officials for personal political gain.

“The matter is as simple and as terrible as that,” Schiff said. “Our answer to these questions will affect not only the future of this presidency but the future of the presidency itself, and what kind of conduct or misconduct the American people may come to expect from their commander in chief.”

It was a remarkable moment, even for a White House full of them. The hearing is the first chance for America, and the rest of the world, to see and hear for themselves about Trump's actions toward Ukraine and consider whether they are, in fact, impeachable offenses.

The proceedings were being broadcast live, and on social media, from a packed hearing room on Capitol Hill. The country has been here only three times before, and never against the 21st century backdrop of real-time commentary, including from the Republican president himself.

Testifying will be two seasoned diplomats, William Taylor, the graying former infantry officer now charge d'affaires in Ukraine, and George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary in Washington, telling the striking, if sometimes complicated story of a president allegedly using foreign policy for personal and political gain ahead of the 2020 election.

So far, the narrative is splitting Americans, mostly along the same lines as Trump's unusual presidency. The Constitution sets a dramatic but vague bar for impeachment, and there's no consensus yet that Trump's actions at the heart of the inquiry meet the threshold of "high crimes and misdemeanors."

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