Why Americans must tune in to the Trump impeachment hearings

Why Americans must tune in to the Trump impeachment hearings
© Greg Nash

The public hearings as part of the House of Representatives’ impeachment inquiry have started. Listening to both sides of the arguments, you will easily forgive any American who dismisses these hearings as partisan political theater on both sides. They should not dismiss the hearings, however. 

Our country’s future is at stake. That is not an exaggeration. We are at a crossroads in our politics. We will choose to honor the democratic principles our Founding Fathers bled and died for, or we will choose to look away at the abusive, corrupt actions of a commander-in-chief who does not understand what it means to lead, govern and serve the greatest country on Earth. 

That statement encompasses what Americans will hear and judge, starting today.  

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While the public part of the impeachment inquiry just started, we already know much of what the president did – or tried to do – which, in itself, constitutes an egregious abuse of presidential power, no matter how Republicans try to spin the facts.  

We know for a fact that Congress approved more than $400 million in military aid for Ukraine to help its desperate efforts to stave off lethal Russian aggression. 

We know for a fact that the aid was withheld and not disbursed immediately.

We know for a fact that the only one who can withhold aid is the president of the United States, or someone acting on his behalf.

We know for a fact that, on July 25, President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate gears up for battle over witnesses in impeachment trial Vulnerable Democrats tout legislative wins, not impeachment Trump appears to set personal record for tweets in a day MORE had a conversation with Ukrainian President Zelensky and that, in the conversation, Zelensky mentioned the Javelin anti-tank missiles he wanted to buy with the military aid, and thanked Trump for the help.  

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We know for a fact that Trump then said, “I need for you to do me a favor, though.” Trump went on to describe how he wanted to get to the bottom of what happened with Joe BidenJoe BidenSenate gears up for battle over witnesses in impeachment trial Conservative group hits White House with billboard ads: 'What is Trump hiding?' Democrat representing Pennsylvania district Trump carried plans to vote to impeach  MORE’s son, Hunter, and his role on the board of directors of a Ukrainian energy company, Burisma, while his father was vice president of the United States. 

We know for a fact that there is no evidence that anything untoward happened while Hunter Biden was on Burisma’s board.

We know for a fact that, in addition to the withholding military aid to Ukraine, the Trump administration held hostage a coveted White House meeting with Zelensky until Ukrainian officials publicly announced they would start the investigations into the Bidens.

Let’s be clear: Trump wants Ukraine to investigate the Bidens because the former vice president is seen as Trump’s biggest reelection threat. Trump is not interested in investigating corruption in Ukraine. He is interested in getting damaging political dirt he can use against a political adversary.  

No matter what Republicans say and do to try to convince Americans that this is not the case, and that these are not the facts, it is and they are. 

Are these facts enough, today, to bring articles of impeachment against President Trump? No. The case needs to be made publicly, and that is now happening. 

As a result, Republicans will try to explain away these facts. They will accuse Democrats of a witch-hunt. They will try to turn things around, to say that Democrats colluded to help Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBiden hires Clinton, O'Rourke alum as campaign's digital director Trump neck and neck with top 2020 Democrats in Wisconsin: poll Clinton tweets impeachment website, encourages voters to 'see the evidence for themselves' MORE in 2016 and that all of this is an effort to undo the 2016 presidential election outcome. They will accuse dedicated lifelong diplomats of being part of a sinister Deep State conspiracy. They will say this is all a partisan circus designed to bring down Donald Trump.

Americans need to pay attention, to see the facts, hear the words to which these diplomats are bravely testifying, and make up their own minds.

Americans are not stupid. Trump and his allies who sit on many of the committees presiding over these hearings may think they can easily pull the wool over Americans’ eyes and convince them that what they are hearing has been made up by the Democrats who want to topple Trump.

But Americans should remember that Democrats did not come to the decision to embark on an impeachment proceeding lightly. House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiVulnerable Democrats tout legislative wins, not impeachment Photographer leaves Judiciary hearing after being accused of taking photos of member notes Overnight Health Care — Presented by That's Medicaid — House passes sweeping Pelosi bill to lower drug prices | Senate confirms Trump FDA pick | Trump officials approve Medicaid work requirements in South Carolina MORE (D-Calif.) took her time, as did a majority of Democrats. They were not eager to start this divisive process. But they put country over party and realized they needed to honor their oaths of office, to protect the Constitution of the United States, regardless of political outcome.

That is exactly what Democrats are doing. Americans owe it to themselves, their families, their communities and their country not to tune this out. They cannot turn away; they should not take democracy for granted.

America, tune in: Truth, democracy and the fate of the Republic all depend on you. 

Maria Cardona is a principal at the Dewey Square Group, a Democratic strategist and a CNN/CNN Español political commentator. Follow her on Twitter @MariaTCardona.