By WVUA 23 Reporter Kayla Smith

The first public impeachment hearing began on Wed. 13.

In Washington, the House Intelligence Committee interviewed acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Bill Taylor, and Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs, George Kent.

The witnesses offered third party information about the president’s involvement with the Ukrainian government.

House Democrats and Republicans have maintained party lines, with Democrats attempting to establish guilt and Republicans defending the president. Both parties seek to answer the question: has the president abused the power of his office for political gain?

Dr. Stephen Borrelli, a professor of American politics and the presidency at the University of Alabama, has been closely watching the impeachment hearings.

He says that the choice of calling career civil servants as the first witnesses to testify was strategic on the part of Democratic leaders.

“Whatever partisan motivations there might have been for going after Trump, that listening to these people who spent their entire lives trying to implement public policy as they best understood it should be implemented, I think creates the idea that there’s more to this than just partisan motive,” Borrelli said.

Borrelli predicts that Republicans are preparing to counter allegations as they appear in these hearings.

“I think Republicans are going to throw up as man procedural roadblocks as possible and make as many procedural protests as possible,” Borrelli said.

“They’ve already talked a lot about the closed-door nature of the initial depositions and the fact that only a limited number of Republicans were able to go to that.”

He also believes that Republican will argue that while potentially improper, these actions do not rise to the level of impeachment. Instead, they are a logical extension of the way the United States has always used foreign aid.  Historically, foreign aid has been a tool in negotiation, and some consider Trump’s action to be a suggestion to the Ukrainian government to begin a corruption investigation.

According to Borrelli, Democrats appear to be constructing a two-part case for impeachment. They describe the president’s actions as damaging to democracy, and they claim that this incident will lead to policy consequences. In essence, the United States has manipulated an ally, and in doing so, has damaged its reputation on a national stage.

As the hearings continue, House leaders will measure President Trump’s actions to the high crimes and misdemeanors impeachment standard set in the Constitution.

The second hearing is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. EST.

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