Public impeachment hearings begin Wednesday

Impeachment Hearing Preview

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - It's only happened three times in our nation's history.

This week marks the fourth.

On Wednesday, Congress will hold public impeachment hearings to determine if the President of the United States violated his oath of office.

At issue this time around is whether President Trump tried to withhold $400 million in foreign aid to Ukraine to pressure the country to investigate his political rivals, including former Vice-President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.

It’s an accusation President Trump strongly denies. House Republicans say there’s no evidence for it.

But Democrats say the evidence is clear.

“I don’t know that this impeachment will follow the pattern of the two impeachments that have taken place in the last 45 years,” said WMC Political Analyst Michael Nelson.

Nelson says unlike the Nixon and Clinton impeachment investigations, the only other two in the modern era, this one is far more partisan.

“The political parties are much more polarized, less willing to see past their partisan preferences to the facts. The voters are the same way,” said Nelson.

Two state department officials overseeing Ukrainian policy will testify Wednesday before the house intelligence committee.

The first witness set to testify is the acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, William Taylor.

In private testimony earlier, Taylor said he learned through conversations there had been a concerted effort to pressure Ukraine to investigate Trump's political rivals.

The second witness will be George Kent, a deputy assistant secretary of state.

Kent testified privately that Trump wanted Ukrainian officials to announce publicly that they were investigating Biden and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

"We're going to see in public now just what those witnesses have been telling the house intelligence committee in private," said Nelson.

Former Ukrainian ambassador Maria Yovanovitch will testify Friday.

Nelson says don't expect Republicans and Democrats to be on the same page about any of the testimony.

But with millions watching, the most important audience will be the American people.

WMC Action News 5 will air live NBC News coverage of the public impeachment hearing starting Wednesday morning.

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