Fireworks expected as televised Trump impeachment hearings open

Beyond our borders, US President Donald Trump is facing the most perilous challenge of his three-year presidency as public hearings convened as part of the impeachment probe against him open under the glare of television cameras today.

Democrats in the House of Representatives plan to prove over several weeks of hearings that the US leader abused his office by seeking Ukraine’s help for his 2020 reelection campaign, and sought to extort his Kiev counterpart into finding dirt on democratic rival Joe Biden.

Trump says the inquiry is “corrupt” and “illegal,” and maintains he did nothing wrong.

But the investigation threatens to make him only the third us president to be impeached, after Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998, and placed on trial in the senate for possible removal from office.

Neither Johnson nor Clinton was convicted and removed.

But in 1974, Richard Nixon resigned in the face of certain impeachment and removal from office for the Watergate scandal.

Hearings are expected to be fiery as a series of government officials take the stand to testify on trump’s Ukraine machinations during the middle of this year.

Coming just one year before national elections, the hearings carry great risks for both parties and no certain reward, with the US electorate deeply divided and weary of Washington infighting.

Polls show a slim majority of Americans favor impeaching the president.

But they also show that trump’s sizable voter base, which delivered his shock victory in 2016, rejects the allegations.

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