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Televised impeachment hearing into U.S. President Donald Trump begins today

As seen from the dais, photographers prepare in the hearing room where the House will begin public impeachment inquiry hearings Wednesday, on Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington. With the bang of a gavel, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff will open the hearings into President Donald Trump's pressure on Ukraine to investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden's family. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Televised impeachment hearings into U.S. President Donald Trump begin today in Washington, D.C.

Nearly every major broadcast and cable news network is pre-empting their programming for live coverage of the hearings

WASHINGTON, D.C. (NEWS 1130) – Did Donald Trump abuse his power? That’s the central question Americans will have to consider as the first televised impeachment hearings get underway today in Washington.

It’s only the fourth impeachment inquiry in U.S. history, and today it enters a new, very public phase.

Nearly every major broadcast and cable news network is pre-empting their programming for live coverage of the hearings, though it’s already known, for the most part, what the witnesses are going to say, since they already said it in closed-door testimony.

RELATED: Separating fact from fiction at Trump’s impeachment hearings

It all starts this morning with long speeches from the top Democrat and the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee. Then, the the acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, William Taylor, will speak.

It’s doubtful the president himself will ever appear before the committee, but it is still all about him.

On Twitter this morning, Trump used words like “circus”, “show trial”, “witch hunt”, and “READ THE TRANSCRIPT” – referring to a call between himself and Ukraine’s president.

That’s the centrepiece of the claim that Trump abused his power. A parade of career public servants have detailed allegations that Trump held back military aid to Ukraine in exchange for investigations into his political rival, Joe Biden, and Biden’s family.

Today’s proceedings will largely entail Democrats trying to spotlight what witnesses like Taylor have already said, and Republicans trying to poke holes in the evidence.

To hear Republican Steve Scalise tell it, this is all a big distraction.

“They have this obsession with impeachment, when the two participants in the phone call made it very clear there was no pressure, no quid pro quo, there was nothing inappropriate,” Scalise says.

Some D.C. bars have opened early for viewing parties. One pub is also selling a special drink called: I Got 99 Problems, but Impeachment Ain’t One. Others cocktails include a Subpoena Colada and a James and the Giant Impeachment.