That's not entertainment

World | REUTERS 15 Nov 2019

Democratic lawmakers tried their hand at reality television as they presented arguments to the American public for the impeachment of a former star of the genre, Donald Trump.

Unlike the best reality TV shows, fireworks and explosive moments were scarce.

Through hours of testimony and questioning that aired live on US broadcast and cable networks, the proceedings were staid, with only the occasional raised voice or snippy retort.

Democrats hope the hearings show, in a made-for-TV way, what they believe are President Trump's corrupt practices, namely that he withheld financial aid from Ukraine while pressing the country's president to probe the role of Hunter Biden, the son of former vice president and 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden, on a Ukrainian energy company's board.

On Wednesday, lawmakers and lawyers questioned George Kent, the deputy secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs, and Ambassador Bill Taylor, charge d'affaires at the US embassy in Ukraine.

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.

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 worn out by the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election. "I hope there'll be the gotcha moment that turns the American people even more strongly against the president, but given the way congressional hearings operate, I'm not so sure it's going to happen," said Democratic strategist Jim Manley.

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