Witnesses Begin Testimony In The First Public Section Of The Trump Impeachment Hearings

All eyes will be on Washington today as anticipation builds for the first public impeachment hearings into President Trump. Among the first to testify will be Bill Taylor, the acting US ambassador to Ukraine, and George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of state for Europe and Eurasian Affairs. Both are scheduled to testify at 10 am on Capitol Hill.

Predictably, Trump has already come out in full force on Twitter, in what has become a characteristically ham-fisted attempt to minimize any fallout from the hearings.

“The president appears to be downplaying the significance of today’s hearing, given that transcripts from Taylor and Kent’s interviews have already been released,” the Guardian reports. “But the hearing will give Americans the first chance to hear directly from these senior state department officials, which could shift public opinion of the inquiry. The question now is whether or not people will listen to them, with just a year left until the 2020 election.”

It is also important to remember that this is only the first day of witnesses, with many more scheduled in — in fact, names have already been released for some of the key appearances next week.

 

 

That being said, it is important not to overstate the power of the impeachment process. Although this is only the fourth time in U.S. that the procedure has been used — and that in itself makes it a historic moment — impeachment is not synonymous with the removal of the president. While it is largely expected that the Democratically controlled House of Representatives will choose to impeach, in order to remove Trump from office the Republican-controlled Senate would have to do the same, by a higher majority.

Of course, this is mostly about expectation management. All facts seem to point to guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. They seem to call out for impeachment. On an instinctive, intuitive, and legal level it feels like the only option. And yet, there is still doubt — not of what happened, but what will be done about it.

“The question is not whether Trump did it – it’s whether the members of the House and Senate will live up to their oaths of office and vote to impeach and convict,” Michael H Fuchs, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and a former deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, writes.

It’s the one and only question — but many of us fear we will not like the answer.