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Trump impeachment hearings open before live television audience

Trump impeachment hearings open before live television audience

AFP
Washington
The US House of Representatives launched momentous televised impeachment hearings on Wednesday as Democrats seek to make the case to the American public that President Donald Trump abused the powers of his office.
“There are few actions as consequential as the impeachment of a president,” said House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff, the California congressman overseeing the historic inquiry in the Democratic-controlled House.
“The questions presented by this impeachment inquiry are whether President Trump sought to exploit (Ukraine’s) vulnerability and invite Ukraine’s interference in our elections,” Schiff said. “If this is not impeachable conduct, what is?”
The 73-year-old Trump faces the most perilous challenge of his tumultuous three-year tenure in the White House as the public impeachment hearings began under the glare of live television cameras.
Speaking minutes before the start of the hearings, Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic speaker of the House, said the probe was necessary to show Trump he can’t do “whatever he wants.” “That he is not above the law,” Pelosi said. “And that he will be held accountable.”
Democrats who control the House plan to prove over several weeks of hearings that Trump abused his office by asking Ukraine to conduct a politically motivated investigation into his potential 2020 Democratic president rival Joe Biden.
Trump, who maintains he did nothing wrong, lashed out at the inquiry with a series of tweets early on Wednesday, morning citing prominent supporters who called it a “partisan sham.”
Addressing the intelligence committee hearing, the panel’s top Republican Devin Nunes assailed the impeachment process as “a carefully orchestrated media smear campaign” that was part of a “scorched-earth war against President Trump.”
The investigation threatens to make Trump only the third US president to be impeached, after Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998, although to be removed from office he would need to be convicted by the Republican-led Senate.

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