Fri. Dec 13th, 2019

Public impeachment hearings haven’t changed minds in or out of Congress

3 min read

After two weeks of public impeachment hearings, Republicans and Democrats remain staunchly divided over charges President Trump abused his office for political gain, while polls show the proceedings did little to shift public opinion.

As the final witnesses testified for the week, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy called the proceedings “a political hit job” and called on Democrats to shut down the proceedings.

“I think we’ve had enough,” said the California Republican.

Across the Capitol, Republicans huddled with Trump to plot his defense when impeachment articles reach the Senate.

No GOP lawmaker in either chamber supports impeachment.

“It’s inconceivable to me there would be 67 votes to remove the president from office,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday.

Democrats said the witnesses who have testified publicly before the House Intelligence Committee this month have provided evidence supporting impeachment.

Democrats are building an impeachment case based on their allegation the president withheld critical security aid from Ukraine in order to coerce government officials to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden.

Ambassador Gordon Sondland testified about a “quid pro quo” Trump wanted in exchange for a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in the form of investigating Biden.

The No. 4 Ukraine diplomat, David Holmes, recounted an overheard phone call between Sondland and Trump that referenced “investigations” about the Bidens.

The witnesses said they believed the held-up security aid would be released only if Zelensky publicly promised to investigate Biden, who Trump had identified as his chief political rival.

“The evidence is clear that the president has used his office for his own personal gain and in doing so has harmed the national security of the United States by withholding security assistance to Ukraine to the benefit of the Russians,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday. “And he has undermined the integrity of the elections, and, third, he has violated his oath of office.”

Rep. Adam Schiff, who leads the House Intelligence Committee, said Trump’s actions were far worse than the Watergate break-in that led to President Richard Nixon’s resignation.

“What we are talking about here is the withholding of recognition, the withholding of military aid, to an ally at war,” said the California Democrat. “That is beyond anything Nixon did.”

Polling on impeachment remains flat. About 48% back it while 45% oppose it, divided along predictable partly lines.

Democrats hoped public hearings would sway public opinion and maybe a few moderate Republicans.

But not even Rep. Will Hurd, a Trump critic who is retiring, said he saw anything impeachable in the accusations against the president.

“I have not heard evidence proving the president committed bribery or extortion,” the Texas Republican said Thursday.

It’s not clear what will happen next. No new hearings have been scheduled yet before the House Intelligence Committee.

“I hope Mr. Schiff will clarify how much more time we will waste on this effort,” Rep. Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the intelligence panel, said. “The minority are in the dark about what this committee will be doing when we return, and so is America.”

Republicans said they believe Schiff will produce a report and send it to the Judiciary Committee when Congress returns Dec. 2 from the Thanksgiving recess.

The House could vote on impeachment by Christmas, and it is likely to pass along party lines. The Senate, run by the GOP, will hold a trial and is poised to vote against convicting the president.

“The real vote is the one that is going to happen in 11 1/2 months,” Rep. Jim Jordan said, in reference to the 2020 presidential election. “That’s the one that matters.”

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Author: Washington Examiner