At impeachment hearing, Republicans again make their case with large signs

The hearing room.
The hearing room.
Image: Ephrat Livni
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The House Judiciary Committee is today holding a public hearing on the constitutional grounds for impeachment of US president Donald Trump. It follows the release of a report yesterday on the evidence the Intelligence Committee has collected in its inquiry into the president’s Ukraine dealings thus far.

Republicans have countered with their own report, released on Monday, and a contradictory constitutional analysis. The president and his counsel, who were invited to attend and participate in the hearing, declined to be present. In their stead were three signs that greeted entrants to the hearing room, proclaiming Republican talking points but citing Democratic politicians.

For example, a poster quoted House speaker Nancy Pelosi in March saying that impeachment is highly divisive and should be avoided. Another sign cited New York representative and House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerrold Nadler saying impeachment “is the undoing of a national election.”

The three signs in varying fonts don’t make much of a case for Republicans’ design sense but they did get the attention of audience members and press, who discussed the posters with amusement as they entered the room.

Republicans argue that Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate possible corruption involving former vice president Joe Biden, a political rival, was perfectly acceptable. Democrats argue that Trump leveraged military aid for Ukraine in its call for that investigation, and that his actions were essentially an effort to seek foreign interference in a national election. Trump’s actions strike at the deepest fears that concerned the founding fathers of the United States when they created the republic and debated the constitution’s impeachment clause, Democrats say.

Nadler gave his opening statement today, sitting just a few feet in front of, and to the side of, the poster meant to mock his prior statement. But he was undeterred by the props when he addressed the American public this morning, saying, “The storm in which we find ourselves today was set in motion by president Donald Trump. I do not wish it upon the country.”

The Republican signs have been an ongoing and evolving feature of the impeachment hearings. Similar signs with different messages were also present during the start of public hearings held last month by the House Intelligence Committee.

One of those signs, displayed on Nov. 15, read, “I have never seen a direct relationship between investigations and security assistance.” It was a quote from Ukrainian foreign minister Vadym Prystaiko. The sign, however, misspelled Ukrainian and was widely mocked.