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Public Impeachment Hearings This Week  11/11 07:32

   For only the fourth time in U.S. history, the House of Representatives has 
started a presidential impeachment inquiry. House committees are trying to 
determine whether President Donald Trump violated his oath of office by asking 
Ukraine to investigate political rival Joe Biden's family and the 2016 U.S. 
presidential election all while the White House was withholding military aid to 
the East European ally that borders Russia.

   IWASHINGTON (AP) -- For only the fourth time in U.S. history, the House of 
Representatives has started a presidential impeachment inquiry. House 
committees are trying to determine whether President Donald Trump violated his 
oath of office by asking Ukraine to investigate political rival Joe Biden's 
family and the 2016 U.S. presidential election all while the White House was 
withholding military aid to the East European ally that borders Russia.

   A quick forecast of what's coming this week: 

   LIGHTS, CAMERAS, HEARINGS 

   Americans will have their public first view of the impeachment inquiry, as 
the proceedings emerge from the secure closed-door facility in the Capitol 
basement to live hearings.

   House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., will gavel in 
the sessions Wednesday and Friday.

   What's unclear, though, is what people will see in two days of hearings . 
Will the proceedings serve as a clarifying moment for the country, when a 
common narrative emerges over the president's actions and whether or not they 
are, in fact, impeachable? Or in this era of peak partisanship, will the days 
devolve into a reality-TV episode showcasing the divide?

   Unlike Watergate in the 1970s or even Bill Clinton's impeachment in the 
1990s, Americans consume their news at different times and in different ways, 
making it hard to know if this week will produce a where-were-you-when moment.

   **

   SPOTLIGHT ON WITNESSES 

   Bill Taylor . George Kent . Marie "Masha" Yovanovitch. 

   Once little-known State Department officials are about to become household 
names as they testify publicly in the impeachment inquiry.

   Taylor, a Vietnam War veteran who has spent 50 years in public service, will 
set the tone as the first witness. All three have testified in the closed 
setting, defying the White House's instructions not to comply. But they are 
providing a remarkably consistent account of the Trump administration's actions.

   Republicans want to hear from others, including Biden's son Hunter, as well 
as the anonymous government whistleblower who sparked the impeachment inquiry, 
but Democrats who have majority control are not likely to agree to those 
requests.

   **

   PERSUADING VOTERS 

   Republicans have struggled to articulate a unified defense of Trump. 
Democrats have had difficulty synthesizing their arguments into a simple 
narrative for the public.

   Both will be sharpening efforts to persuade American voters. 

   Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press" what the 
public will hear is "immensely patriotic, beautiful articulated -- articulate 
people telling the story of a president who -- let's forget quid pro quo; quid 
pro quo is one of these things to muddy the works -- who extorted a vulnerable 
country by holding up military aid."

   But Republicans have focused their attacks with a resolution criticizing the 
House process. Some in the party want to reveal the name of the government 
whistleblower.

   Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said on "Fox News Sunday, "I consider any 
impeachment in the House that doesn't allow us to know who the whistleblower is 
to be invalid, because without the whistleblower complaint, we wouldn't be 
talking about any of this."

   Graham added that there's a "need for Hunter Biden to be called to 
adequately defend the president. And if you don't do those two things, it's a 
complete joke."

   **

   WHAT WILL TRUMP DO? 

   For those watching television Wednesday afternoon, the president is offering 
some counterprogramming to the impeachment inquiry's public hearing: a joint 
news conference with Turkey's president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, amid strains in 
relations between the two nations.

   On impeachment, the president tried to give his allies on Capitol Hill some 
talking points Sunday, tweeting out his advice for how they should defend him 
--- namely by insisting, as he did, that his call with the Ukrainian president 
was "PERFECT."

   "Read the Transcript!" Trump intoned on Twitter. "There was NOTHING said 
that was in any way wrong. Republicans, don't be led into the fools trap of 
saying it was not perfect, but is not impeachable. No, it is much stronger than 
that. NOTHING WAS DONE WRONG!"

   The White House released a rough transcript of his July call and Trump also 
says he will release, probably on Tuesday, an account of an April phone call he 
had with Ukraine's leader, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, soon after Zelenskiy won 
election.

   Testimony in the closed proceedings shows that the April congratulatory call 
did not raise concerns, but the tone shifted on the July call that caused 
alarms among U.S. officials.

   **

   MORE TRANSCRIPTS, MORE HEARINGS COMING 

   House investigators have been steadily releasing transcripts from hundreds 
of pages of testimony they received behind closed doors.

   More transcripts are expected. Nearly a dozen people have testified in the 
inquiry and investigators are building the public record of their findings. But 
this week's hearings will probably not be the last.

   House investigators may still call others to testify, most likely Lt. Col. 
Alexander Vindman, an Army officer assigned to the National Security Council, 
and Fiona Hill, a former White House adviser on Russia. Both testified behind 
closed doors of their concerns about the Trump administration's effort to push 
Ukraine to investigate Democrats.

   Eventually the Intelligence Committee will send a report of its findings to 
the Judiciary Committee, which would decide whether to pursue articles of 
impeachment against the president. A House vote on impeachment could come by 
Christmas.

   **

   WORTH READING 

   The House committees probing Trump's Ukraine dealings are releasing 
transcripts of the depositions:

   Taylor transcript: http://apne.ws/vtAi9aX Kent transcript: 
http://apne.ws/gX69QfC Yovanovitch transcript: http://apne.ws/mBvxghb Vindman 
transcript: http://apne.ws/hOMTyHP Hill transcript: http://apne.ws/ShWUXZO 
Gordon Sondland, U.S. ambassador to the European Union: http://apne.ws/8NmlA02 
Kurt Volker, former U.S. envoy to Ukraine: http://apne.ws/rTdEmG4 

   Michael McKinley, former adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: 
http://apne.ws/PrBMFaM 


(KR)

 
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