Top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine William Taylor testifies before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019, during the first public impeachment hearing of President Donald Trump’s efforts to tie U.S. aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponents. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine William Taylor testifies before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019, during the first public impeachment hearing of President Donald Trump’s efforts to tie U.S. aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponents. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

‘Sad day’ or ‘scam’? What to watch at Trump impeachment hearing

House Democrats let the public in to the impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump

A “solemn day” or a “show trial”?

Americans and the world can decide for themselves as House Democrats let the public in to the impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff opened the first hearings Wednesday into Trump’s pressure on Ukraine to investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden’s family.

“Must we simply ‘get over it?’” Schiff asked in the hearing’s first moments.

Other big questions loom, including how strongly officials connected what Trump called that “favour” to U.S. military aid for Ukraine. Impeachable offences? Worthy of Trump’s removal? And, critically, will a parade of diplomats and their accounts nudge more Americans behind formally charging Trump in the shadow of the 2020 elections?

Here’s what to know about the first hearing, with the charge d’affaires in Ukraine, William Taylor, and a career diplomat, George Kent, at the witness table:

___

FIRST, KNOW THIS

“The President, Vice-President and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanours.”

Expect numerous mentions of Article 2, Section 4 of the Constitution, especially on whether Trump’s own words and actions meet the vague threshold of “high crimes and misdemeanours.” Some Democrats and diplomats say conditioning U.S. aid on whether Ukraine goes after Biden’s son Hunter sounds like “bribery.” Republicans deny that, saying Trump did not explicitly offer aid for the Biden probe.

What it’s not: a trial, which would be conducted by the Senate if the House approves articles of impeachment. So no matter what the president tweets, he is not entitled to a defence attorney. The proceedings are the due process he says he’s being denied, though they are controlled by Democrats in ways Republicans will say is unfair.

READ MORE: Trump likens House impeachment inquiry to ‘a lynching’

___

… AND THIS

It’s only the fourth time in American history that Congress has launched impeachment proceedings against a sitting president. Two of those — against Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton 130 years later — resulted in their impeachments, or formal charges approved by the House. Both were acquitted by the Senate.

President Richard Nixon resigned in 1974 before the House could vote to impeach him.

___

THE SPIN

With only hours to go before the hearing, Republicans and Democrats from Congress to the campaign trail were spinning their points of view.

“Well, it’s a calm day, it’s a prayerful day, it’s a solemn day for our country,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday night on the eve of the hearings. “It’s a sad day, which I wish we never had to face.”

“A phoney show trial,” Trump groused a few hours later.

Trump also has called the process a “total impeachment scam.” He’s offering his own counterprogramming with a White House visit from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which is its own story of war, trade and tension.

READ MORE: Then and now: How Trump impeachment hearing is different

___

THE SPARK

A whistleblower’s complaint about Trump’s July 25 telephone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy ignited the impeachment investigation. Trump responded on Sept. 24 by releasing a rough transcript.

During the hearing Wednesday, listen for discussion about a key exchange during that 30-minute call, in which Zelenskiy invokes the still-blocked military aid and the U.S. president responds: “I would like you to do us a favour though.” Trump then asks Zelenskiy to investigate a debunked conspiracy theory about the 2016 election and later explicitly mentions the Bidens.

Trump says the call was “perfect” and contained no “quid pro quo,” or this for that.

Democrats say it shows Trump using his office to pressure a foreign government to help him politically.

___

‘INVESTIGATIONS, BIDEN and CLINTON’

Democrats chose Taylor and Kent to start the storytelling of public hearings. They will describe a parallel foreign policy toward Ukraine led by Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and other White House officials.

“I discovered a weird combination of encouraging, confusing and ultimately alarming circumstances,” Taylor testified in an Oct. 22 statement. He is a West Point graduate and Vietnam War veteran who has served under every presidential administration, Republican and Democrat, since 1985, and worked for then-Sen. Bill Bradley, D-N.J.

Kent, the bow tie-wearing career foreign service officer, testified on Oct. 15 that there were three words Trump wanted to hear from the Ukraine president: “Investigations, Biden and Clinton.”

He also told the investigators about the “campaign of lies” against former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch that he said was waged by Giuliani and contributed to her being recalled from the position.

___

THE RINGER

Republicans have added House Rep. Jim Jordan to the Intelligence Committee. Although Nunes is the senior Republican, look for the congressman from Ohio to act as an especially fierce attacker of the witnesses’ credibility and the Democrats’ case for impeachment.

At its heart, the GOP argument is that the impeachment effort is unfair and sparked because “unelected and anonymous bureaucrats disagreed” with Trump’s decisions on Ukraine.

Some Republicans have urged the outing of the whistleblower.

U.S. whistleblower laws exist to protect the identity and careers of people who bring forward accusations of wrongdoing by government officials. Lawmakers in both parties have historically backed those protections.

The Associated Press typically does not reveal the identity of whistleblowers.

___

WHAT AMERICANS THINK NOW

An AP-NORC Center poll conducted in late October found Americans more approving than disapproving of the impeachment inquiry, 47% to 38%.

Even in the throes of impeachment, approval of the president’s job performance has not changed significantly.

___

NEXT UP

Yovanovitch, a two-time ambassador, testifies Friday as the next in the series of hearings expected to stretch through next week.

She has twice served as an ambassador — to the Kyrgyz Republic and to Armenia — before being confirmed as the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine in a Senate voice vote in July 2016.

Next week’s schedule:

— Nov. 19, morning: Jennifer Williams, an aide to Vice-President Mike Pence; Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, director for European affairs at the National Security Council.

— Nov. 19, afternoon: Ambassador Kurt Volker, the former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine; Tim Morrison, a White House aide with the National Security Council.

— Nov. 20, morning: Gordon Sondland, U.S. ambassador to the European Union.

— Nov. 20, afternoon: Laura Cooper, deputy assistant secretary of defence for Russian, Ukrainian and Eurasian affairs; David Hale, undersecretary of state for political affairs.

— Nov. 21, morning: Fiona Hill, former National Security Council senior director for Europe and Russia.

___

Associated Press researcher Randy Herschaft and Associated Press writer Hannah Fingerhut contributed to this report.

Laurie Kellman, The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Brandon Hobbs (turquoise shirt), brother of missing Abbotsford man Adam Hobbs, gathers with other family and friends to distribute posters in Chilliwack on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Search efforts expand to Chilliwack and beyond for missing Abbotsford man

Family, friends put up posters in Chilliwack, Agassiz, Hope for missing 22-year-old Adam Hobbs

poster
Drop-in Covid vaccine clinic in Mission June 17-18

Neighbourhood clinics complement appointment-based clinics currently operating in Mission

Stock photo by LEEROY Agency from Pixabay
Drop-in vaccination clinics slated in Abbotsford for construction workers

Among three sites in Lower Mainland holding no-appointment clinics in June and July

A CH-149 Cormorant from 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron out of CFB Comox on a training exercise in Chilliwack on June 16, 2021. (William Snow photo)
VIDEO: Military search and rescue training in Chilliwack Wednesday

CH-149 Cormorant and CC-115 Buffalo from CFB Comox participated in downed aircraft rescue simulation

(Black Press Media files)
Get ready for mosquito season

Fraser Valley Regionsl District has already taken measures to curb the number of mosquitos

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

Helen Austin performing with Trent Freeman at the 2018 Vancouver Island MusicFest. Austin is one of the many performers listed for the 2021 event.
Vancouver Island MusicFest goes virtual for 2021

Black Press to stream 25 hours of programming July 9-11

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

The first suspension bridge is the tallest in Canada, with a second suspension bridge just below it. The two are connected by a trail that’s just over 1 km. (Claire Palmer photo)
PHOTOS: The highest suspension bridges in Canada just opened in B.C.

The Skybridge in Golden allows visitors to take in views standing at 130 and 80 metres

BC Green Party leader and Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau introduced a petition to the provincial legislature on Thursday calling for the end of old-growth logging in the province. (File photo)
BC Green leader Furstenau introduces old-growth logging petition

Party calls for the end of old-growth logging as protests in Fairy Creek continue

B.C. Premier John Horgan leaves his office for a news conference in the legislature rose garden, June 3, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. premier roasted for office budget, taxing COVID-19 benefits

Youth addiction law that triggered election hasn’t appeared

Most Read