FOR THE WEEK OF NOV. 18, 2019
History in action: U.S. House impeachment hearings explore whether Donald Trump abused presidential power
Read a news article about this topic and tell why it does or doesn't seem fair, balanced and clear.
Now pick an opinion column or editorial about the hearings and share a vivid excerpt.
Can you spot coverage quoting anyone from your state or area – a politician or other resident?
At a historic U.S. House impeachment hearing, Intelligence Committee witnesses speak for a second week about presidential actions that Democrats call an abuse of power that violated the U.S. Constitution. The extraordinary inquiry began after President Donald Trump and other top government officials appeared to pressure leaders of Ukraine, a country in Eastern Europe that's next to Russia, to publicly announce investigations of 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son and release alleged evidence that Ukraine interfered our 2016 election. On the other side, Republicans decry the hearings as "just a carefully orchestrated media smear campaign," in the words of Rep. Devin Nunes of Califoirnia, the party's top-ranking member of the committee. "Despite all their [Democrats'] dissatisfaction with President Trump's Ukraine policy, the president approved the supply of weapons to Ukraine, unlike the previous administration," he added last week as the sessions began. . . . This spectacle is doing great damage to our country. It's nothing more than an impeachment process in search of a crime."
The Democrats' key evidence is a phone call last July between Trump and Ukraine's newly elected president, when the U.S. leader implied that nearly $400 million military aid would be withheld unless Ukraine did as requested. A former U.S. ambassador, William Taylor, confirmed that pressure at the first hearing. In a Republican response, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio tweeted: "Ukraine didn't know aid was held up at the time of the call. Ukraine never took any action to get aid released." He and other critics also dismiss some witnesses as relaying second-hand information about conversations they didn't participate in or hear.
Another witness was Marie Yovanovich, our ambassador to Ukraine until being suddenly removed last May because Trump believed she was undermining efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate his 2020 re-election campaign rival. She testified Friday about feeling intimidated by "the smear campaign against me" by Trump allies. "How could our system fail like this?" Yovanovitch (pronounced YO-vahn-OH-vitch asked. "How is it that foreign corrupt interests could manipulate our government?"
Nine Republicans and 13 Democrats on the Intelligence Committee all ask questions at the televised hearings, as does each side's staff attorney. Sessions continue this Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday with eight witnesses. Whenever testimony is done, the committee and then the full House will vote on whether to authorize an impeachment trial in the Senate. Republicans have 53 of the 100 seats in that branch of Congress, and a vote to remove Trump is generally considered unlikely – as of now. (A video below describes the process.)
Democrat says: "There are few actions as consequential as the impeachment of a President. While the Founders did not intend that impeachment be employed for mere differences over policy, they also made impeachment a constitutional process that the Congress must utilize when necessary." – Rep. Adam Schiff, House Intelligence Committee chairman
Republican says: "It's purely a partisan adventure right now by the Democrats. I think we're having a debate over policy, not really over impeachable offenses. The sooner we can be done with it, the better." – Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.
Columnist says: "The [first] hearing made it clear that Trump subverted foreign policy in order to cheat in the 2020 campaign." – Michelle Goldberg, The New York Times
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