The start of open hearings in the impeachment investigation into Donald Trump on Wednesday will give the American public their first chance to witness live the explosive showdown between Democrats and Republicans over the US leader’s future.
The hearing before the House Intelligence Committee marks the second phase of the impeachment investigation into allegations that Trump abused his powers by seeking help for his 2020 reelection campaign from Ukraine.
Trump is under threat of becoming only the third president in US history to be impeached — formally charged with violating his duties as president or committing crimes, and placed on trial in the Senate.
With Democrats in control of the House of Representatives, impeachment appears highly likely, as soon as the end of 2019.
But the Republicans hold a majority in the Senate, a bulwark against him being convicted and removed from office — unless they turn against him.
There is still much to do, but analysts believe the entire process could be completed before the end of January.
On Wednesday, the House Intelligence Committee takes the impeachment investigation public after six weeks of closed-door depositions from White House, State Department and other officials.
Those depositions have already painted a fairly complete picture of how Trump and aides, including personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, pressured Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky to open investigations that could conceivably find political dirt against the Democrats and Trump’s possible 2020 election rival Joe Biden.