Public impeachment hearings enter second week

World Today

The second week of public hearings into the impeachment investigation of U.S. President Donald Trump gets underway Tuesday.

Nine more witnesses will testify this week, including people on the now infamous July telephone call between the U.S. and Ukrainian presidents in which Trump asked Ukraine’s President Zelensky for “a favor,” as an alleged precondition for releasing U.S. military aid to Ukraine.
White House Correspondent Nathan King reports.

After public testimony from three U.S. officials last week, expect another nine this week, including Jennifer Williams and Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman on Tuesday. These two will be key witnesses as they were both on the July 25th call when U.S. President Donald Trump asked his Ukrainian counterpart to “do him a favor” and dig up dirt on political rival Joe Biden and his family.

Tuesday will also see former U.S. Special Representative to Ukraine, Kurt Volker, testifying. He worked with Trump lawyer Rudolph Giuliani on his private efforts to pressure the Ukrainian government to open investigations into the Bidens.

Wednesday will see live testimony from Gordon Sondland, the current U.S. Ambassador to the EU. He recently amended his testimony, remembering that he told Ukrainian officials that nearly $400 million in military aid, and a White House visit, were at risk unless the investigations were publicly announced.

And on Thursday, Fiona Hill, a former National Security Council staffer, will appear. She has already told Congress that she was “shocked” by the scheme.

Democrats will try and get witnesses to implicate President Trump as the architect of the scheme. Trump, meanwhile, continues to tweet against witnesses as he did last week against the former Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, during her testimony.

Meanwhile, the U.S. public is paying attention. A new survey says 58% of Americans polled are following the hearings very or somewhat closely. 51% of respondents say Trump should be impeached and removed from office. 25% say he did nothing wrong.

The polls may be against the President, but the political situation not necessarily so. Trump is very popular within the Republican Party, and, if the impeachment investigation goes to a trial in the U.S. Senate, a two-thirds majority would be needed to remove him from office. That would require 20 Republican senators to turn against him. The Senate is nowhere near that number now, neither in public, nor in private.