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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Senior Democratic and Republican U.S. lawmakers presented dueling narratives on Wednesday as a congressional impeachment inquiry that threatens Donald Trump’s tumultuous presidency entered a crucial new phase with the first public hearing.
Democrats leading the U.S. House of Representatives probe have summoned three U.S. diplomats - all of whom have previously expressed alarm in closed-door testimony about Trump’s dealings with U.S. ally Ukraine - to detail their concerns under the glare of wall-to-wall news coverage this week. The public hearings are scheduled for Wednesday and Friday.
With a potential television audience of tens of millions looking on, Democratic Representative Adam Schiff, chairman of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, opened the historic session in an ornate hearing room packed with journalists, lawmakers and members of the public.
“The questions presented by this impeachment inquiry are whether President Trump sought to exploit that ally’s vulnerability and invite Ukraine’s interference in our elections,” Schiff said in his opening statement.
“Our answer to these questions will affect not only the future of this presidency, but the future of the presidency itself, and what kind of conduct or misconduct the American people may come to expect from their commander-in-chief,” Schiff said.
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