Trump impeachment hearings begin without a bang
Lack of compelling TV moments as diplomats testify at Trump's impeachment inquiry
WASHINGTON: Democratic lawmakers tried their hand at reality television with mixed results on Wednesday as they presented arguments to the American public for the impeachment of a former star of the genre, Mr Donald Trump.
Unlike the best reality TV shows - not to mention the Trump presidency itself - fireworks and explosive moments were scarce, however.
Democrats need the hearings to resonate with the broader American public to gain support for a process that could lead to the impeachment and removal of the Republican commander-in-chief.
Through hours of testimony and questioning that aired live on US broadcast and cable networks, the proceedings were rather staid, with only the occasional raised voice or snippy retort.
To the president's son, Mr Eric Trump, it was a big yawn. "This is horribly boring..." he tweeted around midday.
His tweets were retweeted by thousands, but the sentiment drew derision from his father's critics, including the Democrats in charge of the day's events.
"In boredom there can be great significance. This is of great consequence and gravity," said Representative Dean Phillips, a Democrat from a suburban swing district of Minnesota. "I wouldn't assign the word exciting to it, of course not. But we have a responsibility to pay attention, all of us."
Democrats hope the hearings show, in a made-for-TV way, what they believe are Mr Trump's corrupt practices, namely that he withheld aid from Ukraine while pressing the country's president to probe the role of Mr Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice-President Joe Biden, on a Ukrainian energy company's board.
On Wednesday, lawmakers and lawyers questioned a bow tie-wearing George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs, and bespectacled Ambassador Bill Taylor, charge d'affaires at the US embassy in Ukraine.
'NOT HERE TO ENTERTAIN'
Both linked the president directly to a pressure campaign on Ukraine to conduct investigations that would benefit him politically.
Republicans largely refrained from disrupting the proceedings, which Representative Adam Schiff, the Democratic congressman overseeing the hearings, acknowledged when he thanked attendees for remaining serious and civil.
"We're not here to entertain, we're here to get to the truth so we can hold those engaged in wrongdoing, up to and including the president, accountable," said Representative Val Demings, a Democrat from Florida.
Mr Taylor and Mr Kent testified in plain, direct terms about their concerns about Mr Trump's actions in Ukraine. The hearings continue today.
Mr Trump and his closest aides are unlikely to testify, which could rob Democrats of the viral moment they seek to grab the attention of Americans already worn out by the lengthy probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.- REUTERS