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Impeachment probe goes public as US political drama mounts

WASHINGTON: The impeachment inquiry into US President Donald Trump reaches a critical juncture today once lawmakers launch their first televised public hearings, marking a new, high-stakes phase of a tumultuous presidency.

Washington, November 13

The impeachment inquiry into US President Donald Trump reaches a critical juncture today once lawmakers launch their first televised public hearings, marking a new, high-stakes phase of a tumultuous presidency.

Democrats leading the US House of Representatives probe have summoned three US diplomats – all of whom have previously expressed alarm in closed-door testimony about Trump’s dealings with Ukraine — to detail their concerns under the glare of wall-to-wall news coverage.

Trump’s fellow Republicans, who will also be able to question the witnesses, have crafted a defense strategy that will argue he did nothing wrong when he asked Ukraine’s new president to investigate Joe Biden, key 2020 re-election rival.

Both sides will play to a sharply polarised electorate as they move deeper into a six-week-old probe that has shadowed Trump’s presidency with the threat of being removed from office even as he campaigns for a second term.

It has been two decades since Americans last witnessed impeachment proceedings against a President (Bill Clinton), and these will be the first of the social media era.

The focus is a July 25 phone call in which Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to open a corruption investigation into Biden and his son and into a discredited theory that Ukraine may have meddled in the 2016 US elections. Trump has denied any wrongdoing, derided some of the current and former US officials who have appeared before committees as “Never Trumpers” and branded the investigation a witch hunt aimed at hurting his re-election changes. — Reuters

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