Consequential, but dull: Trump impeachment hearings begin without a bang




  • In US
  • 2019-11-14 01:29:10Z
  • By Reuters

By Jeff Mason and Patricia Zengerle

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic lawmakers tried their hand at reality television with mixed results on Wednesday as they presented arguments to the American public for the impeachment of a former star of the genre, Donald Trump.

Unlike the best reality TV shows - not to mention the Trump presidency itself - fireworks and explosive moments were scarce, however.

Democrats need the hearings to resonate with the broader American public to gain support for a process that could lead to the impeachment and removal of the Republican commander-in-chief.

Through hours of testimony and questioning that aired live on U.S. broadcast and cable networks, the proceedings were rather staid, with only the occasional raised voice or snippy retort.

To the president's son, Eric Trump, it was a big yawn.

"This is horribly boring..." he tweeted around midday.

His tweets were retweeted by thousands, but the sentiment drew derision from his father's critics, including the Democrats in charge of the day's events.

"In boredom there can be great significance. This is of great consequence and gravity," said Representative Dean Phillips, a Democrat from a suburban swing district of Minnesota. "I wouldn't assign the word exciting to it, of course not. But we have a responsibility to pay attention, all of us."

Democrats hope the hearings show, in a made-for-TV way, what they believe are Trump's corrupt practices, namely that he withheld financial aid from Ukraine while pressing the country's president to probe the role of Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice President Joe Biden, on a Ukrainian energy company's board.

Joe Biden is a leading candidate for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

On Wednesday, lawmakers and lawyers questioned a bow tie-wearing George Kent, the deputy secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs, and bespectacled Ambassador Bill Taylor, charge d'affaires at the U.S. embassy in Ukraine. Both linked the president directly to a pressure campaign on Ukraine to conduct investigations that would benefit him politically.

Republicans largely refrained from disrupting the proceedings, which Representative Adam Schiff, the Democratic congressman overseeing the hearings, acknowledged when he thanked attendees for remaining serious and civil.

"We're not here to entertain, we're here to get to the truth so we can hold those engaged in wrongdoing, up to and including the president, accountable," said Representative Val Demings, a Democrat from Florida.

Taylor and Kent testified in plain, direct terms about their concerns about Trump's actions in Ukraine. The hearings continue on Friday.

Trump and his closest aides are unlikely to testify, which could rob Democrats of the viral moment they seek to grab the attention of Americans already worn out by the lengthy probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election conducted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

"I hope there'll be the gotcha moment that turns the American people even more strongly against the president, but given the way congressional hearings operate, I'm not so sure it's going to happen," said Democratic strategist Jim Manley.

Republicans appeared to be on orders from their leaders not to pull what he called stunts, he said.

"Given that the hearings went well for Democrats today, I don't expect that to last."


(Additional reporting by Susan Cornwell; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

COMMENTS

More Related News

Democratic Rep. Jeff Van Drew, critic of Trump impeachment, to switch to GOP
Democratic Rep. Jeff Van Drew, critic of Trump impeachment, to switch to GOP

Democratic Rep. Jeff Van Drew is expected to make the official announcement that he's switching from Democrat to Republican sometime next week.

Justices to take up dispute over subpoenas for Trump records
Justices to take up dispute over subpoenas for Trump records

The Supreme Court said Friday it will hear President Donald Trump's pleas to keep his tax, bank and financial records private, a major tussle between the president and Congress that also could affect the 2020 presidential campaign. The justices are poised to issue decisions in June, amid Trump's bid for a second term. Rulings against the president could result in the quick release of personal financial information that Trump has sought strenuously to keep private.

For 3rd time in US history, full House to vote on impeachment of a president
For 3rd time in US history, full House to vote on impeachment of a president

The House Judiciary Committee Friday morning voted along party lines to approve two impeachment articles.

Mitch McConnell Brags About Blocking Obama For 2 Years, Then Laughs About It
Mitch McConnell Brags About Blocking Obama For 2 Years, Then Laughs About It

The Senate majority leader boasted about stacking the courts with conservative judges under Trump.

Senate recognizes Armenian genocide over objections of Trump and Turkish government
Senate recognizes Armenian genocide over objections of Trump and Turkish government

For decades, Turkey had deployed an army of lobbyists to stop the measure. But that effort fell short on Thursday.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: US