Fierce proceedings expected as impeachment testimony against Donald Trump set to telecast today

WION Web Team Washington, United States of America Nov 13, 2019, 01.49 PM(IST)

US President Donald Trump (File photo) Photograph:( Reuters )

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In the US history, only two presidents have so far been impeached: Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998.

In what can be described as the biggest challenge Donald Trump's presidency, public hearings of the impeachment probe against him will be telecast from the US House of Representatives on Wednesday.

The Democrats intent to prove that the US president abused his office by seeking the help of his Ukrainian counterpart for finding dirt on his Democratic rival Joe Biden. Trump has denied any wrongdoing and described the inquiry as "corrupt" and "illegal".

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In the US history, only two presidents have so far been impeached: Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998. However, neither of the two presidents was convicted and removed. But, in 1974, Richard Nixon resigned as the US president after the demand of impeachment rose because of the Watergate scandal.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who will lead the hearings, told NPR radio on Tuesday that as per witnesses statements, Trump can be impeached in a number of 'impeachable' offences such as bribery, high crimes and misdemeanours, reports AFP. 

The impeachment hearings are expected to be fiery as many government officials decided to testify on Trump's Ukraine machinations during the middle of 2019. There will be no holds barred from both Republicans and Democrats also because the US is nearly a year away from presidential elections and any setback by either of the parties may impact the outcome of the elections. 

Latest polls show that Americans who are favouring impeachment of the president are holding a slim majority. However, the polls also reflect that a big chunk of voters that made Trump victorious in 2016 are still backing the president and are against the impeachment. 

The witnesses to testify to Wednesday are William Taylor, the acting ambassador in Kyiv and George Kent, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs. The former Ukraine envoy Marie Yovanovitch will testify on Friday. 

After the impeachment inquiry is completed, the House which has a majority of Democrats, will vote. A simple majority is required in order to impeach Trump. If the US president gets impeached, the proceedings will move to the Senate and two-third of all majority will be required for removing Trump from the office. 

The Democrats accuse Trump of pressurising Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to find dirt on Biden and investigate 2016 election tampering. The main evidence is the official White House transcript of phone call on July 25 showing Trump asking the Ukrainian president to open a probe into Biden and the 2016 conspiracy theory.

On Tuesday, the Democrats announced the schedule for public testimony next week by eight more witnesses, all of whom previously testified behind closed doors.

The Republicans accuse Democrats of including witnesses that are biased against Trump. The Republicans also tried to shift focus on Biden's link to Ukraine and that Ukraine helped Democrats in the last presidential elections in the US.