Opinion: Why the Democrats' impeachment hearings have a politics problem - - PressFrom - US

Opinion Why the Democrats' impeachment hearings have a politics problem

17:21  13 november  2019
17:21  13 november  2019 Source:   theweek.com

The moment of truth for Democrats arrives Wednesday

  The moment of truth for Democrats arrives Wednesday A crucial phase of the impeachment investigation begins with public hearings Wednesday. House Democrats on the Intelligence Committee are preparing to review with the public some of the damning findings that they have gathered over the course of their closed hearings with committee Republicans. © Susan Walsh/AP House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., followed by Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., walks out to talk to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019, about the House impeachment inquiry.

The Democrats have set the open hearings to be phase two of a three-phase approach to impeachment : first, the closed-door depositions before the House Intelligence Committee, whose transcripts have mostly been made public; second, the televised hearings before the same committee

About 83 percent of Democrats support impeachment . Just 12 percent of Republicans do, according to a broad analysis by FiveThirtyEight. When House Democrats moved to officially vote on launching an impeachment inquiry against Trump last month, the vote was framed in anodyne, procedural terms.

Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not necessarily represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.

a close up of Adam Schiff in a red shirt: Adam Schiff.© Illustrated | Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, ElizabethNYC/iStock Adam Schiff.

The House of Representatives opens its next phase of the impeachment process today, with open hearings of witnesses who have already given testimony in closed session. House Democrats hope to break a public-opinion stalemate on the prospect of impeaching President Trump by allowing the public to become part of the experience, just as televised hearings captivated the nation in 1974. Back then, public opinion turned as witnesses testified to crimes and cover-ups, leading to then-President Richard Nixon's resignation as a bipartisan consensus formed for removal.

Democrats warn State Dept against punishing individuals who testify in impeachment hearings

  Democrats warn State Dept against punishing individuals who testify in impeachment hearings A group of Senate Democrats is urging top State Department officials to commit that individuals who testify as part of the House impeachment inquiry hearings won't face retaliation over their remarks.Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, led by Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), the committee's ranking member, sent a letter on Tuesday to Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan and Undersecretary of State Brian Bulatao urging them to publicly commit to protecting department officials who testify from any potential professional blowback.

House Democrats on Wednesday will begin public hearings in connection with their impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, heightening the Wednesday's hearing showcases Taylor, who gave damning testimony that he had a "clear understanding" that Ukraine wouldn't receive its military

Nearly every Democrat in the US House of Representatives have now said they support an impeachment investigation into President Donald This cannot stand," she tweeted. "Congress has a moral obligation to put our politics aside and take action. We need to start impeachment proceedings."

But a lot has changed since 1974, and this strategy has its risks. If Democrats don't make the sale — and make it quickly — this will look like just another partisan Beltway food fight, televised or not.

The hearings will definitely have the capacity to draw a large audience. In 1974, PBS broadcast the Nixon hearings out of necessity, as commercial networks focused on their usual programming and no other option was available for national access to the events. This time around, all of the major broadcasters have committed to live coverage, as have the cable networks, especially C-SPAN, which routinely broadcasts Congress' operations. C-SPAN's reach likely outstrips that of PBS in 1974, which means there will be plenty of people who can watch the proceedings without commentary. Combine that with all of the online platforms that will either carry the proceedings live or record for later consumption, and the saturation level will go well past anything imaginable in 1974.

The real reasons Democrats want open impeachment hearings

  The real reasons Democrats want open impeachment hearings “The importance of public hearings is to make the case to the American people,” a Democratic lawmaker said.And yet House Democrats are holding public hearings this week — prolonging the investigation and, crucially, a vote on whether or not to impeach the president.

Recently in Politics . Democrats Try to Get the Impeachment Hearings Off to a Dignified Start. President Donald Trump and his congressional allies have a bizarre game plan for this week’s impeachment hearings .

Impeachment Legalism Is a Trap Democrats Must Avoid. Focus on the Constitution, not extortion That is why they did not offer any statutory definition of “high crimes and misdemeanors.” Tactically, Democrats need to avoid legalism in impeachment because too much discussion of legal rules will

But just because more people than ever before can watch these hearings doesn't mean they will. While in 1974, Americans were somewhat limited in their viewing options: It was either the hearings, or the soap operas and game shows that populated the dial. Today, most Americans have hundreds of choices for their viewing pleasure, and even under the best of circumstances for the most hopelessly addicted news junkies, committee hearings are anything but pleasurable viewing. If Democrats can't make a dramatic case immediately for staying tuned, viewers will "touch that dial" and move on.

Do House Democrats have a case ready for changing minds about the necessity of removing a president? Based on their initial witness list, they have their work cut out for them. House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif) announced a week earlier that their lead witnesses would be former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, former Ukraine charges d'affaires William Taylor, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent. All three occupied or still occupy significant positions of trust and authority and will provide some gravitas to the proceedings.

Trump campaign raises $3.1M on first day of impeachment hearings

  Trump campaign raises $3.1M on first day of impeachment hearings President Trump’s reelection campaign announced that on Wednesday it raised over $3.1 million in donations – the same day as the first public hearing of the House’s impeachment inquiry into Trump. © Provided by Fox News Network LLC“$3,144,257 RAISED YESTERDAY!” Brad Parscale, Trump’s 2020 campaign manager, tweeted Thursday. “’[Trump] loves these huge numbers. He knows that it isn’t enough to end this IMPEACHMENT SCAM.” Even before the public hearings began, Trump fundraisers reported seeing a surge in donations in response to impeachment talk.

To understand what Democrats are trying to achieve in the first public impeachment hearing on Wednesday, just look at how they structured it. This setup reflects a strategy from Democrats to depoliticize, and depoliticianize, the impeachment process as it goes live before the public.

Unlike a hearing for a high-profile confirmation battle, or the House impeachment hearings , senators won’t be able to manufacture viral video moments. “At the trial the problem is that members are supposed to be there the whole time,” said the Biden adviser. “The only people really have an

Unfortunately for Schiff, what they won't provide is any direct testimony about a quid pro quo involving Trump — the very point on which Democrats will argue for Trump's removal. The depositions for all three have been released to the public, and not only do they not contain any eyewitness accounts of demands for investigation of the Biden family in return for U.S. aid to Ukraine, Yovanovitch in particular testified that she was unaware of any official policy tying aid to an investigation of Ukraine energy giant Burisma, on the board of which Hunter Biden served. "There's no official policy," Yovanovitch told Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin (N.Y.), and she didn't wonder about any unofficial policy until Politico first raised the issue months later, Yovanovitch testified.

Taylor spent much more time discussing the quid pro quo issue in his testimony, but once again did not testify to any direct knowledge that Trump ordered one. Taylor never spoke to Trump at all, but worked through U.S. ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland instead, whom Taylor testified was sending mixed messages. Taylor testified that he was genuinely concerned about the direction of U.S. policy, especially with Trump's attorney Rudy Giuliani operating as an unofficial diplomatic envoy. It was Taylor's opinion that a quid pro quo was being enforced, but he also testified that Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky was unaware that the promised aid had been delayed as late as August 29th — about two weeks before it was finally released. If Zelensky didn't know the aid had been delayed, then the case for a quid pro quo is pretty weak — at least in Taylor's testimony.

Support for Trump's impeachment unchanged after hearings begin: Reuters/Ipsos poll

  Support for Trump's impeachment unchanged after hearings begin: Reuters/Ipsos poll The televised impeachment hearings that began this week in the U.S. House of Representatives do not appear to have changed many minds about President Donald Trump, with public support for his impeachment about the same before and after the first U.S. diplomats testified, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll. © Reuters/TOM BRENNER U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks on honesty and transparency in healthcare prices inside the Roosevelt Room at the White House in Washington The national online poll, which ran from Thursday to Friday morning, showed that 44% of U.S.

Sidelining impeachment for now could set the body on a more gradual path toward the same end, liberal Democrats open to impeachment say. With subpoenas and gavels, they say, they could begin to unearth impeachable offenses, and embarrassing public hearings could build a public case against

The Democratic Speaker of the House had long resisted calls from within her own party to back a formal impeachment process against the president Democratic chairman of the House intelligence committee, one of the three committees leading the inquiry. He was criticized by Republicans for

George Kent, on the other hand, did provide some testimony about raising concerns over quid pro quos and Ukraine. Those concerns, however, were raised in 2015, not 2019, and regarded the appointment of Hunter Biden to the board of Burisma, a company viewed as corrupt by the U.S., both then and now. Kent testified that he grew concerned that then-Vice President Joe Biden's actions in Ukraine could "create the perception of a conflict of interest," only to be rebuffed. On a Trump-related quid pro quo, Kent testified having no direct knowledge of one, and that the only mention he'd ever heard about it was an offhand comment by Sondland.

None of this adds up to a compelling case for abuse of power, even if the witnesses might have criticisms (legitimate or otherwise) of Trump's policies and deportment. House Democrats will ask viewers to slog through hours of committee protocol, arguments, speeches, and Beltway minutia without much of a payoff except to amplify Democrats' general complaints about Trump that they have made since his election three years ago.

And it might get worse. Schiff released rules for the inquiry on Tuesday that threatened Republicans on the committee with referrals to the Ethics Committee if they attempt to "further the same sham investigations into the Bidens or into debunked conspiracy theories about 2016 election interference[.]" The latter is especially rich coming from Schiff, who repeatedly insisted that he'd seen hard evidence of Trump's collusion with Russia in the same election, only to be contradicted by former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's finding of "no evidence" for that hypothesis.

If these are truly "debunked" theories, then Democrats should have no problem dealing with them in the hearing. Kent's deposition touched directly on the issue with the Bidens, though, and Republicans will certainly want to explore that further. If Schiff starts cutting off questions and threatening punitive action, the viewers who do tune in may well conclude that the purpose of this hearing isn't a fearless foray to find the truth, but yet another partisan soap opera.

That won't move Americans closer to consensus on impeachment and removal. It might move them closer to the realization that this is nothing much more than a political argument that belongs in an election campaign.

Nunes questions Schiff about 'magical 15 minutes' during lengthy impeachment hearing .
The ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee continued Tuesday evening to criticize the committee’s lengthy impeachment hearings into President Trump, and committee Chairman Adam Schiff.Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., questioned Schiff, D-Calif., whether the chairman expected to “have any more ‘magical’ 15 minutes” after the lawyer representing the Democrats continued questioning former U.S. special representative to Ukraine Kurt Volker and Tim Morrison, a former top national security adviser to Trump, following a recess in the hearing.

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