On Nov. 13, formal hearings in the impeachment inquiry of President Trump began, and Meredith College hosted viewings of the historic event in the recently renovated Kresge Auditorium. The House Intelligence Committee brought out their first set of witnesses: William Taylor, former ambassador to Ukraine, and George Kent, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs.
As a part of the event held by the Department of History, Political Science and International Studies, Dr. David McLennan opened the auditorium 15 minutes prior to the beginning of the hearing. By inviting students before the proceedings began, the event was designed to discuss the process of impeachment and allow for necessary context to this historic event. Dr. Daniel Fountain discussed the impeachment process for President Andrew Johnson, following which Dr. Angela Robbins discussed the more recent impeachment of President Bill Clinton. The auditorium then fell silent as the opening remarks began.
Adam Schiff, Chairman of the Intelligence Committee, started the proceedings. He introduced the misconduct that was being investigated. President Trump has been accused of trying to force the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, into a quid-pro-quo. Specifically, Zelensky would be allowed an Oval office meeting and the U.S. would provide security assistance, both of which Ukraine desperately needed. In exchange, Ukraine was allegedly required to publicly launch an investigation. They were to look into Burisma, a corporation known for corruption. Of more interest to President Trump was the fact that Hunter Biden, son of presidential candidate Joe Biden, was on the board of Burisma.
Chairman Schiff quoted Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney. When confronted by the fact that the president was forcing Ukraine to investigate his political adversary, Mr. Mulvaney said the American people must “get over it.” Mr. Schiff questioned whether the American people should accept this conduct from their president. Representative Devin Nunes, ranking minority member of the Intelligence Committee, also made an opening statement. Offering the Republican view, he asserted that Democrats were trotting out ridiculous allegations.
The floor was then opened to the witnesses. Mr. Kent gave his opening testimony, stating that Rudy Guiliani, the president’s lawyer, lead the efforts to coerce President Zalensky into the quid-pro-quo. Guiliani was also the lead on a smear campaign on the U.S ambassador to the Ukraine, Marie Yavanovitch. In his testimony, Ambassador Taylor claimed that President Trump cared more about the investigation than the Ukraine itself, also corroborating Kent’s statements on Guiliani.
The testimony of Marie Yavanovitch was given the following day, also broadcast in Kresge auditorium. As reported on by ABC-11 and CBS-17, the historical importance of the event was a major reason why Meredith students attended these broadcasted proceedings. As testimonies continue to be given and recorded, students will no doubt continue to engage with the impeachment inquiry, participating in history as it is made.
By Savi Swiggard, Associate Editor, and Karli Keller, Contributing Writer